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Jury selection underway in the trial of former Rutgers' student Dharun Ravi

In a Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 file photo, former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, Tyler Clementi's former roommate, sits in Middlesex County, N.J., Court during a motion hearing in New Brunswick, N.J. On Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, Dharun Ravi's lawyer told a judge that Ravi would not take a plea deal offered by prosecutors that would have kept him out of prison and sought to prevent his deportation. Ravi accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate's Clementintimate encounter with another man. Clementi, committed suicide days after the alleged spying in September 2010. Pool,AP Photo/Mark R. Sullivan, File

Dharun Ravi
Pool,AP Photo/Mark R. Sullivan, File

(CBS/AP) NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - The trial of a former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi's intimate encounter with another man, could reveal some of the mystery that surrounds the case if the unidentified man in the video is called to testify.

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Ravi is charged with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and hindering prosecution in the case that sparked a national conversation about bullying after Clementi committed suicide in September 2010.

The 19-year-old Ravi rejected a plea bargain offer that would have let him avoid any jail time and receive the state's help if federal authorities tried to deport him to India, where he was born. Lawyer Steven Altman said his client didn't accept the deal because he's not guilty of any crimes.

If the other man in the video is brought to the witness stand, his testimony could become a key part of the trial. He's been identified publicly only by the initials M.B.

A legal battle in the case leading up to the trial focused on whether Ravi and his lawyers could learn the man's identity. Eventually, the judge ruled they could. If he testifies, his full name is expected to be used.

About 2,000 Middlesex County residents were called for jury duty for the case, most of who said they could not serve because it would create a hardship.

More than 200 came to court Friday to fill out a 17-page questionnaire that probed issues such as how they feel about gays and whether they've ever had problems with a roommate.

Lawyers and Judge Glenn Berman will meet Tuesday to determine which prospective jurors may have biases or know witnesses and should be removed from the list. On Wednesday, they will start questioning prospective jurors in hopes of finding 12 people plus alternates who can serve in the high-profile case. The process is expected to last at least a few days.

The trial itself, which is expected to delve into text messages, tweets and online chats from Clementi and Ravi, is projected to last about four weeks.

Complete Coverage of Tyler Clementi on Crimesider


  • Crimesider Staff

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