Closing arguments are being heard in the case against NYPD officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata. Moreno is accused of raping an inebriated woman and Mata stands accused of being the lookout man while his partner committed the crime.
Citing a lack of DNA evidence, conflicting medical testimony and an accuser with spotty memory, lawyer Joseph Tacopina said in his closing argument that "the evidence was not there."
The officers were called to help the woman get out of a taxi and into her Manhattan apartment. They took her keys and returned to her apartment three times within the next four hours — at her urging, they said — without telling dispatchers where they were. Moreno even admitted making a bogus 911 call about a sleeping vagrant to provide a pretext for one of the visits.
The woman, who has a corporate job in fashion, had been out celebrating an impending promotion. She acknowledged she didn't remember much of the night but testified that she passed out and awoke briefly to being raped. She said she was too intoxicated to fight back.
"(Her) story is not reliable. She blacked out, folks," Tacopina told jurors. "She tried to connect the dots and got it wrong."
Moreno testified that the woman made sexual overtures on his final visit and he lay alongside her in bed for a while, but they didn't have sex. Mata told jurors he was napping in her living room while the others were in the bedroom, but he didn't believe Moreno had violated the woman because he "wouldn't do something like that."
When asked why he never told his partner about the alleged victim's attempts to seduce him, Moreno said, "I don't kiss and tell."
When the woman confronted Moreno in a secretly taped conversation several days after the encounter, he repeatedly denied they'd had sex — but he also said "yes" twice when she asked whether he'd used a condom. He testified that he was just trying to pacify her.
There's no DNA evidence in the case, and experts debated the significance of an internal mark found during an examination of the woman the next day. A forensic examiner who testified for prosecutors said the mark could be a result of a rape; a gynecologist who testified for the defense said it was negligible, and he didn't interpret it as a sign of a rape.
The woman, now 29, has sued the city for $57 million over the incident, a fact Tacopina also underscored in his summation. She told jurors last month she sued because she wanted to hold the officers "accountable for what they did to me."
Moreno, 43, has been an officer for 17 years. Mata, 29, has been on the force for about five years. They have been suspended until a police department review after their trial.
If convicted, they could face up to 25 years in prison.