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Rutgers Spycam Trial Update: Dharun Ravi's lawyers seek to overturn hate crime conviction

Dharun Ravi, center, is helped by his father, Ravi Pazhani, right, as they leave court around noon in New Brunswick, N.J., Friday, March 16, 2012. Ravi, a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate's love life has been convicted of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. A jury found that he used a webcam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi. Within days, Clementi realized he had been watched and jumped to his death from New York's George Washington Bridge in September 2010. AP Photo/Mel Evans

Dharun Ravi, center, is helped by his father, Ravi Pazhani, right, as they leave court around noon in New Brunswick, N.J., Friday, March 16, 2012.
AP Photo/Mel Evans

(CBS/AP) PLAINSBORO, N.J - Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, who was found guilty of hate crimes for using a webcam to view his roommate kissing another man, has asked a judge to overturn the jury's conviction.

Pictures: Tyler Clementi
Pictures: Rutgers Spycam Trial

In a legal filing Tuesday, Ravi's lawyers said the jury convicted him in March despite evidence that he was not guilty of invading the privacy or intimidating roommate Tyler Clementi, who killed himself days after the incident.

The most disputed and serious charge was bias intimidation and the lawyers say the law was misused. On some of those counts, the jury found that Ravi did not mean to intimidate Clementi or the other man, but that Clementi reasonably believed he did. Jurors said as much both in their findings in court and in comments afterward to journalists. Copies of some news articles were included with the brief to support Ravi's lawyers' position.

The lawyers said that the jury was also wrong on invasion of privacy charges because the snippets of video that Ravi and others saw did not show sexual acts or nudity.

"To criminalize a defendant for a victim's mistaken belief about the defendant's motive would turn the bias intimidation statute into a mockery of itself," wrote the lawyers, Steven Altman and Philip Nettl. It is standard practice for lawyers to ask for a judge to overturn a conviction after a jury delivers it. In Ravi's case, the request is for the judge to acquit Ravi entirely - or at least grant him a new trial.

Prosecutors had no immediate comment on the court filing. But they're sure to have more to say in coming weeks as they file papers to recommend a sentence for Ravi.

He could face 10 years in prison when he's sentenced on May 21. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, he could also be deported eventually because of the conviction.

Jurors found Ravi guilty of all 15 counts he faced, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence and a witness, to try to cover up the other crimes.

Complete coverage of Tyler Clementi and the Dharun Ravi trial on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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