'Megan's Law' jurors begin deliberationsMay 29, 1997
Web posted at: 6:38 p.m. EDT (2238 GMT)
TRENTON, New Jersey (CNN) -- Deliberations began Thursday in the trial of the man accused of raping and killing 7-year-old Megan Kanka, whose death led to a nationwide movement to protect children from sexual predators.
Prosecutors accuse Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sex offender, of luring the child into his house across the street from the Kanka home to see a puppy, then raping her and strangling her with a belt.
The defense maintains Timmendequas was working on a boat at his house, and that it was Megan who asked Timmendequas if she could see the puppy.
After being charged by Mercer County Court Judge Andrew Smithson, the 12 jurors deliberated about three hours before finishing for the day. They were to return Friday.
If convicted of murder, Timmendequas could receive the death penalty. If not convicted of murder, the jury can consider a reduced charge of aggravated manslaughter, which carries a minimum 10-year jail term.
Prosecution: 'Killing without remorse'
In closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Barbara Lependorf suggested that Timmendequas, 36, was a vulnerable man who confessed to police to protect his two roommates, also convicted child molesters.
"There were three men that lived in that house. So Jesse confesses, takes all the weight," Lependorf said in closing arguments.
But prosecutor Kathryn Flicker scoffed at the suggestion that Timmendequas' confession was false, saying the roommates had alibis. She said Timmendequas disclosed details only the killer would know and led police to a park where Megan's body was found the day after she disappeared July 29, 1994.
"His killing was so cold and so calculated that it is chilling in the extreme," Flicker told the jury in her closing remarks. "This was a killing done without remorse."
The prosecution took 14 days to present its case and called 18 witnesses. The court-appointed defense lawyers did not call any witnesses, and Timmendequas did not testify.
Megan's slaying led to laws requiring that neighbors be notified when a sex offender moves into their area. Versions of "Megan's Law" were passed in New Jersey and other states, and last year President Clinton signed a federal version.
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