Monday, May 21, 2012

Rutgers trial: Ravi to make statement before sentencing

Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi will make a statement to a packed New Brunswick, N.J. courtroom today before he is sentenced.

In March, Ravi was found guilty of a hate crime for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi.

Ravi, 20, faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and any jail time will likely also mean deportation for the Indian native.

Ravi was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010.

Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

The defendant will address the court today, sources told ABC News.

His statement will join others, including members of Clementi's family, who are expected to make victim impact statements.

In recent days, several prominent gay activists have made public pleas for Ravi to not be sent to prison.

Judge Glenn Berman began the proceedings today by noting the court had received a box full of petitions seeking a pardon for Ravi.

Some of the petitions were addressed to President Obama, but the judge said the president has no ability to pardon someone for a state crime.

Some of the petitions were addressed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who would have the authority to pardon someone for a state crime.

Clementi's case gained national attention when he committed suicide shortly after the spying by jumping off the George Washington Bridge Sept. 22, 2010. Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

Three of the convictions carried a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the U.S. on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The U.S. deports most criminals convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

Ravi had previously rejected a plea deal that would have spared him any jail time or the threat of deportation, but put him on probation and would have required him to perform community service.

Ravi was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.

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