Rutgers Trial: Tyler Clementi Saw Roommate’s Apology Just Before Suicide
(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was told by police that his text message apology for spying on roommate Tyler Clementi was likely the last message Clementi received before killing himself.
In a taped interview with investigators the day after Clementi's suicide, Ravi is seen struggling to understand as he is told that his apology to Clementi was received just minutes before Clementi posted a Facebook message saying, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
"Did he get that text before?" Ravi asked investigators.
"That's the way it looks," an officer responded.
"So he got mine, and then sent his?" Ravi asked, to which the investigators responded yes.
The tape was shown in a New Jersey courtroom Wednesday as part of the prosecution's case against Ravi, who is accused of spying on Clementi during a gay sexual encounter just days before Clementi's death.
Ravi is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
In the video, which gave the jury its first opportunity to hear Ravi's version of events from the week of Sept. 19, 2010, Ravi is seen contradicting his own statements and appears to be lying to investigators.
After spying on Sept.19, Ravi sent out Twitter and text messages to friends encouraging them to spy on Clementi's next date through Ravi's webcam on Sept. 21, according to documents presented in court and according to testimony by other students. During the questioning, however, Ravi denied any intention of spying on Clementi on Sept. 21.
"Tuesday (Clementi) asked for the room again. This time I knew it was going to happen, so then I told everyone, I told my friends not to chat me. I turned my camera off," Ravi said on the videotape.
As the investigators challenged Ravi's version of events, he claimed that his text messages were "just jokes" and that his actions on the night of Sept. 21 -- allegedly turning the camera off and not spying -- are what matters.
"I said that sarcastically, first of all, and second of all I turned off my computer," Ravi said. "The fact is if you ask people, one of the kids in the hall told me, oh the computer wasn't working."
Investigators also asked Ravi whether he "deliberately" spied on his roommate. When Ravi responds that he did not, investigators reference a text message Ravi sent his friend, Molly Wei, asking her whether she confessed to police that they spied "on purpose."
Ravi responded that he did send the text message.
After investigators explained that "deliberately" and "on purpose" meant the same thing, Ravi admitted that he spied on Clementi deliberately.
The questioning ended abruptly when investigators were told that Ravi's father had arrived at the police station requesting that his son be represented by a lawyer in any further questioning. Police asked Ravi if he agreed with his father, and Ravi said yes.
At the end of the video, police investigators told Ravi they might charge him with invading Clementi's privacy, even if he had nothing to do with Clementi's suicide.
The tape was entered into evidence as the prosecution winds down its case against Ravi. The prosecution is expected to rest Thursday. The defense will then have an opportunity to call its witnesses for the remainder of the trial.
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