Closing arguments in the trial of Dharun Ravi came to an abrupt halt Tuesday morning and have been postponed until the afternoon.
Defense attorney Steven Altman was an hour into his summation when he asked for a one hour recess, the Associated Press reported.
Altman had been sick since last week and sounded weak when he began this morning. A reporter heard Altman's wife say that he was going to the doctor.
Ravi, 20, is a former Rutgers University student charged with bullying and intimidating his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Clementi committed suicide in September 2010, just days after Ravi used a webcam to see him in a romantic moment with another man. Ravi then tweeted about seeing the encounter and said friends would be able to tap into his webcam to watch Clementi on another date with the man.
New Jersey prosecutors charged Ravi with 15 counts. The most serious is bias intimidation, which carries a 10-year sentence if convicted. He's also charged with invasion of privacy, witness tampering and evidence tampering for allegedly altering his tweets about Clementi.
Ravi wasn't charged with Clementi's death, but the case sparked a national discussion about cyber bullying, privacy in the age of Facebook and Twitter and biases towards gay youths.
Over 12 days, 30 witnesses testified, although Ravi was not one of them. The defense rested its case Monday.
One witness testified that she watched the webcam with Ravi for a few seconds and saw Clementi's tryst. Another said Ravi appeared uncomfortable about having a gay roommate, but others disputed that notion. A computer technician, also called by the prosecution, said that Clementi looked at Ravi's Twitter feed 38 times. The defense called multiple character witnesses who said Ravi wasn't homophobic.
Before Altman interrupted his closing statements, he portrayed Ravi as a kid who pulled a thoughtless prank, not as a malicious homophobe.
"An 18-year-old boy, a kid, a college freshman had an experience, had an encounter that he wasn't ready for, that he didn't expect, that he was surprised by," Altman said, according to the Star-Ledger. "And he didn't know how to deal with it because he was a kid."
He also said that Ravi was suspicious of Clementi's date -- who testified as "M.B." but had his identity concealed -- because he looked "scruffy" and "homeless," not because he was gay.
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