(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) — Rutgers University student Molly Wei, who spied on fellow student Tyler Clementi as he kissed another man, told a New Jersey court on Tuesday that she was “overcome with emotion” when police told her Clementi may have committed suicide.
Wei is a key witness in the trial of Dahrun Ravi, another Rutgers student who is on trial for invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest.
The case gained national prominence when Clementi, a freshman, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge several days later and the story became a focal point for anti-bullying activists.
Ravi was Clementi’s roommate and the prosecution claims he set up his webcam to be able to watch the gay date on Sept. 19, 2010. He and Wei peeked briefly at the couple from Wei’s computer in a dorm room across the hall.
Wei has testified that Ravi was concerned that Clementi’s date would steal his iPad.
Wei was initially arrested and charged with invasion of privacy, but those charges have been dropped in exchange for Wei’s testimony at the trial and doing 300 hours of community service.
During cross examination on Tuesday, Wei recounted how she gave a statement to police about what happened. When the questioning was over, an emotional Wei said she went home to her parents instead of returning to her dorm.
“It was overwhelming because at the end of the statement the police told me that Tyler was missing and may have committed suicide,” Wei told the court. “I was overcome with emotions. I felt so bad about what happened and I wanted to be with my parents.”
It was the first time Clementi’s suicide has been mentioned in the trial other than at the beginning of jury selection when the judge told prospective jurors that Clementi would not be testifying because he is dead, but that the charges were unrelated to the suicide.
Wei also told the court that on Sept. 27, she contacted police because she wanted to give them more information. She told them about a conversation she had with several friends at lunch and was surprised when her friends — who were not in the room when she and Ravi spied on Clementi — brought up the incident.
“One said it was so stupid what Dahrun did… And they told me about the twitter, tweets they received about a viewing party,” Wei testified.
Wei said she had not been aware that Ravi had tweeted about what they saw on his webcam. The prosecution claims that Ravi tweeted about Clementi’s date on Sept. 19 and tweeted again two days later that Clementi was having another date. There is no indication, however, that he spied on Clementi on Sept. 21.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News