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Rutgers student on trial declines to testify

Dharun Ravi is accused of spying on his roommate.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Jurors in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s intimate encounter with another will not hear directly from the defendant.

Dharun Ravi’s defense lawyer rested his case Monday without calling Ravi to testify.

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The jury could begin deliberating on Tuesday or Wednesday after lawyers give their summations and the judge gives instructions.

Ravi’s lawyer, Steven Altman, said Monday that although he did not think there was anything to gain from having his client testify, the jury might hear from him indirectly in closing arguments.

Altman said he may play for them a video of a nearly hourlong statement Ravi made for an investigator days before he was charged. In it, Ravi, who was 18 at the time, acknowledged using his webcam and seeing what was happening in his room, but said he did not intend to do any harm.

The trial captured in detail the actions of Ravi and his randomly assigned freshman roommate, Tyler Clementi, over a few days in September 2010, beginning when Clementi asked for privacy so he could have a guest over and continuing past when he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

The suicide made Clementi a national symbol of the difficulties young gays can face.

Ravi is not charged with his death. He faces 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. Seven of the charges are related to allegations that he tried to cover his tracks by changing Twitter messages, deleting text messages, and telling another witness what she should say.

Testimony stretched over 12 days and included about 30 witnesses, including several college students, along with school officials and investigators. Jurors also heard from the other man in the streamed video; he was identified only by the initials M.B.

Without a chance to hear testimony from Ravi, who told Judge Glenn Berman that it was his own decision not to get on the witness stand, jurors may give more consideration to the one instance they did get to hear his voice. It came in a video of an interview he gave police on Sept. 23, 2010.

Ravi was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops when he was brought into a police station. Word had spread that Ravi used his webcam to view Clementi in a private moment with another man, just days before Clementi committed suicide.

As he was questioned, Ravi looked directly at the investigator, who grilled him and accused him repeatedly of lying.

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