NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey – A university student who later committed suicide had requested a room change about 30 hours after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to spy on his intimate encounter with another man, a jury was told Monday.
William O'Brien, a Rutgers University official, testified that Tyler Clementi requested a room change on Sept. 21, 2010. His testimony came in the trial of Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, who is charged with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other counts. Ravi could face more than 10 years in prison if convicted of all of them.
But before O'Brien testified, a judge said he would not be able to say that Clementi put on his request form for a room change that his roommate spied on him with a webcam. Prosecutors wanted the line included and argued that it would be allowed because it was part of a business record since it came from a university form.
But Judge Glenn Berman said the statement should be excluded, ruling that it was not a business record because it was Clementi and not a Rutgers official who filled out the document.
The line that said as much was blacked out when the jury was shown the form blown up on a screen in the courtroom.
Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010.
O'Brien, an assistant director of residential life at Rutgers, told jurors that his staff did not see Clementi's request for a new roommate until after he was reported missing from campus.
Jurors also heard from Pooja Kolluri, a Rutgers student who said she was shown about five seconds of streaming video of two men who were kissing.
She said Ravi came into the room where it was seen only after a group of students saw the video -- which another witness testified Friday lasted only about one second.
"I was shocked, a little bit shocked because I didn't know what I was going to see," Kolluri said.
She said Rutgers student Molly Wei showed a group of students the images from Ravi's webcam. Wei was initially charged in the case but entered a pre-trial intervention program that could keep her record clean. She has cooperated with prosecutors and is expected to testify in the case.
Kolluri said Ravi told her he initially turned on the webcam to make sure that Clementi and his guest weren't touching his things -- and also to see if he could confirm his suspicion that Clementi was gay.