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Gang-rape case goes to jury

From Stan Wilson

Prosecutor Hess: Defendants took advantage of girl.
Sex Crimes
Crime, Law and Justice

SANTA ANA, California (CNN) -- Prosecutors Wednesday reminded a jury in the Southern California trial of three men charged with raping an unconscious teenage girl of what they witnessed on a videotape of the incident.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys portrayed the girl as a pathological liar who consented to sex and feigned unconsciousness.

On Wednesday afternoon, the eight-man, four-woman jury began deliberating the fate of Gregory Haidl, 18, Keith Spann, 19, and Kyle Nachreiner, 19, who could each spend 55 years in prison, if convicted.

The three men are charged with 24 felony counts, including gang rape and rape with a foreign object, on July 5, 2002, in the affluent seaside community of Corona Del Mar.

The 21-minute incident was recorded by Haidl at the party, which was held at the home of his father, who is a top-ranking sheriff's official. The elder Haidl was not home at the time.

The tape became the centerpiece of the prosecution's case after it was viewed by an acquaintance of the younger Haidl. The acquaintance, fearing the girl was dead, confiscated the tape and turned it over to authorities.

Prosecutors contend that the girl, who was 16 at the time, was seduced, manipulated, and given drugs and alcohol before passing out and being assaulted numerous times as she lay motionless on a pool table.

"You see on the tape that they (the defendants) are celebrating," prosecutor Dan Hess said during closing arguments. "They are mugging for the camera and making crude comments. They're dancing around. They know that she's unresponsive, they know that she's unconscious. They're deciding what to do next. They're competing with each other to see who can do the worst things to her."

Throughout their case, defense lawyers spent most of their time attacking the credibility of Jane Doe, saying she engaged in a pattern of deceit and lying about her sex life.

Defense attorneys described the girl as a promiscuous, aspiring porn star who was acting out her fantasies and agreed to be videotaped.

"She likes being photographed. She likes sex in strange places. She has sex with boys she barely knows, " said Haidl attorney Joseph Cavallo during closing arguments. "In short ladies and gentlemen, she lies. She lies a lot. You shouldn't convict the boys on the testimony of a liar."

The girl, identified only as Jane Doe, testified for four days, telling jurors she did not remember anything after having a drink that may have been laced with GHD, a so-called "date rape" drug.

Defense attorney Cavallo: Alleged victim cannot be trusted.

The alleged victim testified that she attended a July 4, 2002, party with three friends, during which they engaged in sex, then returned the following night by herself. She said she had a puff of marijuana, a beer and a drink that tasted like pine needles, then lost consciousness and woke up only to vomit.

During cross-examination, the girl acknowledged that she frequently lied to her parents about her dating habits and originally told them she had not had consensual sex with the teens on July 4.

But prosecutors concluded their case by telling jurors that regardless of whether Jane Doe consented to sex, she was so intoxicated and under the influence of drugs that she "lost her ability to exercise reasonable judgment when the teens are seen (on videotape) inserting foreign objects into her body and having sex while she lay unconscious."

The three defendants, dressed in white shirts and ties, expressed no emotion as they occasionally glanced at the jury but paid close attention to prosecutors and defense attorneys presenting their cases.

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