Brianna Denison Update: Defense Rests in James Biela Murder-Rape Case

Brianna Denison (Personal Photo)

RENO, Nev. (CBS/AP) The jury is expected to begin deliberations in James Biela's rape and murder trial on Wednesday, after his public defenders abruptly ended presentation of their case with the calling of only one expert witness about DNA evidence.

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Biela is accused of raping and murdering 19-year-old Brianna Denison and sexually assaulting two other young women in a string of attacks from Oct. 2007 to Jan. 2008 on the edge of the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

He also faces a kidnapping charge.

The judge said he anticipates the case going to the jury sometime Wednesday afternoon following closing arguments from both sides in the trial that began 12 days ago.

"Sooner than I thought we are done with the evidence in the first part of this case," Washoe District Judge Robert Perry said before sending the jury home for the day about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Biela, 28, a pipe fitter and ex-Marine, told the judge earlier Tuesday he wanted to testify but decided against it on the advice of his attorneys.

If found guilty, a second phase of the trial will begin with the same jury determining whether Biela should be sentenced to death.

Denison, a Reno High graduate, was on winter break from Santa Barbara City College when she was abducted while sleeping on a friend's couch near the UNR campus on Jan. 20, 2008.

Her body, clad only in socks, was found about three weeks later beneath a discarded Christmas tree in a vacant lot across the street from the workplace of Biela's ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Carleen Harmon.

Prosecutors contend Biela is a serial rapist who was motivated in part by a fetish for women's thong underwear and eventually graduated to murder.

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