OKLAHOMA CITY – Jurors in Oklahoma City are set to resume deliberations in the case of a former police officer accused of sexually victimizing 13 women in the neighborhood he patrolled, following about nine hours of work in their first day.
Daniel Holtzclaw's case went to the state court panel Monday evening, after prosecutors and the former policeman's lawyer finished their closing arguments. The jury, which is being sequestered, disbanded early Tuesday morning and was expected to reconvene about eight hours later.
Holtzclaw, 28, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on any of six first-degree rape charges. In all, he faces 36 counts that also include sexual battery.
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Scott Adams called the former college football player an honorable man who put his life on the line to protect the poor inner-city neighborhoods near the Oklahoma state Capitol. Prosecutors, however, said Holtzclaw targeted drug addicts and other women with felony records, believing his threats to jail them could intimidate them.
"This officer violated an oath to protect this community," Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger said. "He exercised authority on those society doesn't care about. Convince these ladies that someone does care about them."
Since the trial started Nov. 2, the 13 women told jurors that Holtzclaw stopped them in their neighborhoods and sexually victimized them. Most said Holtzclaw checked for outstanding warrants, then wanted them to prove they weren't carrying drug paraphernalia, then forced himself on them.
All but one said they did not report the attacks for fear they would not be believed.
Holtzclaw, fired after his arrest last year, did not testify.
Adams, through his cross-examinations, questioned the credibility of the women who testified against Holtzclaw. He cited their felony records, outstanding warrants and pounced on inconsistencies in their stories. He noted to jurors that some women didn't come forward until investigators approached them and that some had filed civil lawsuits against the city.
The allegations against Holtzclaw brought new attention to the problem of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers, something police chiefs have studied for years. The case was among those examined in an Associated Press investigation of such misconduct.
Holtzclaw's father and sister regularly sat behind him in the courtroom, as did other family members and friends. Also in the courtroom often were pastors and activists from the communities where the women live.
Associated Press writer Sean Murphy contributed to this report.