NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — They never knew Dharun Ravi to say anything bad about gays — but they also never discussed it with him.
That was what seven character witnesses had to say Friday in the trial of Ravi, a former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s intimate encounter with another man.
Ravi, now 20, is accused of using a webcam for the central crime, then using Twitter, instant messages and texts to tell friends about it. He’s charged with 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.
His roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010, just days after the alleged spying.
But on cross-examination, they all said they had never discussed the issue with him.
“Why would that come up?” said one of the men, Anil Kappa, a business partner of Ravi’s father when First Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Julia McCLure asked how often he had discussed homosexuality.
Those communication means are central to the case.
The seven men testified in a total of about one hour. Their brief appearances on the witness stand were a contrast to the prosecutor’s case, in which nearly two dozen witnesses were called over 10 days.
Defense lawyers also called an investigator to testify. One, Frank DiNinno, who works for the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office, was mentioned often by prosecution witnesses.
On the stand Friday, Altman asked him about his many interviews with students. In each case, he asked whether the purpose of the interview was to find out whether Ravi expressed anti-gay bias.
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