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Aug 27, 2015 3:46 PM

Jurors begin deliberations after hearing closing arguments in Owen Labrie rape trial


CONCORD – There was one thing defense attorney Jay W. Carney Jr., and Prosecutor Joe Cherniske agreed on during closing arguments in the St. Paul’s rape trial Thursday - that the 119 emails and Facebook messages between Labrie and his alleged victim were vital pieces of evidence.

After seven days of testimony from Labrie, his alleged victim, detectives, doctors and friends, the jury began deliberations Thursday afternoon.

Carney argued the messages before, during and after the night of the alleged incident between Labrie and the freshman girl were playful and casual.

“I lost my earring up there haha,” was one of the chats Carney read to jurors from the alleged victim hours after the two met in an academic building.

Prosecutor Joe Cherniske cited messages from months prior to May 30, 2014 as the first time Labrie expressed interest in “slaying” her as part of a sex scoring tradition at the elite prep school known as the "Senior Salute."

Prosecutor Joe Cherniske argued the physical evidence not only proves Labrie raped the freshman but that it was premeditated.

“The only two things Owen brought were a blanket and a condom,” Cherniske said.

The state said after Labrie’s friend encouraged the girl to meet him in the dark, secluded room of a locked building, Labrie “took what he wanted.”

The young girl testified last week that despite saying "no" to Labrie three times, he aggressively forced himself on her.

“(Owen) was an older student who should have respected her when she protested but instead took advantage of her,” prosecutors said Thursday.

Labrie testified in his own defense Wednesday and denied having sex with her but instead had a moment of reflection and self-restraint. He maintained the two were giggling and laughing as they took each other’s clothes off and rolled around on the floor.

On Thursday, the defense pointed to the Senior Salute as a disgusting tradition among seniors at St. Paul’s that brought the two students, who each had a “crush” on one another, together. Carney told jurors the 15-year-old willingly met Labrie that night and engaged in sexual contact with him but panicked when news began to travel throughout the school.

“She thought she could keep it a secret. She didn’t know she would be at the center. It got out,” Carney said.

Prosecutors maintained the Concord prep school’s tradition was not the issue at hand but rather it was the conduct of Owen Labrie.

In the final moments of Thursday’s closing arguments, the state left jurors by saying, “she said no…he did it anyway.”


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