Closing arguments in Dryden trial: attorneys argue whether it was rape or sex

ITHACA, N.Y. – After four days of testimony, attorneys appealed to the jurors one last time discussing the charge that has again and again been the focus of the case: whether Jeffrey Horton raped a woman after brutally beating her or if he “slapped her around” for a few seconds and had make-up sex afterward.

Horton is facing 14 charges in relation to the accusations. He adamantly denies the first-degree rape charge but has confess to others, such as  assault and burglary.

After nearly five hours of deliberation, the jury the jury left the courthouse around 4:30, a court clerk said. They were given the option to discuss the trial longer but declined. The jurors will be back in court Monday morning at 9 a.m. to continue deliberations.

Defense:”I believe there is a lot of reason to not believe what she said.”

The crux of the defense’s claims throughout the entire trial can be summed up in one sentence: Horton did have sex with the woman accusing him of rape, but it was makeup sex that happened after he “went nuts” and “slapped her around.”

During Horton’s testimony Thursday he said that on March 24, 2015, he walked into the woman’s house through the back door, went to her room and the two of them talked about their relationship problems. Horton’s intent, Moynihan said, was to to talk about their relationship.

The discussion came after an intense series of arguments and insulting text messages that started after misunderstandings and accusations of the woman being unfaithful.

After allegedly forgiving each other for the days long argument, Horton made a comment about friends of theirs and the woman allegedly hit him in the face.

That’s when he said, “I just went nuts. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Prosecution: “Let’s look first at the defendant’s story and how completely illogical it is.”

Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama reminded the jury that there is no dispute that Horton entered the home completely unwelcome the night of the crime — Horton confessed to that to police and on the stand. He also confessed to hitting the woman. But it’s up to the jury to decide what happened next that night.

“Was it, as the defense would have you believe, a case of (redacted) wanting Mr. Horton — who at best in the words of his own attorney is a jerk — to show up unannounced as she slept, figure out some way to get into that house, startle her awake, beat her up and then sweep her off her feet with consensual sex? Or is it, as we submit to you, that (redacted) truly wanted to be left alone?

She said Horton’s version of what happened between him and the woman is “completely illogical” for a variety of reasons (Note: There are some but not all of the arguments Lama made during her closing statement.):

  • The woman made it clear she wanted to be left alone: On just the night of the crime — not including the days leading up to March 24 — the woman woman texted Horton a final time stating, “Leave me alone.” He then texted her 10 more times and called her 31 times in a row. The woman did not answer a single call. Lama said, “What more could (redacted) have done, short of hiring an armed guard to stand outside of her house to let the defendant know that he was not welcome’.’
  • The injuries were so severe, it is impossible that the woman wanted sex: On a screen shown to the entire court, photos of the female victim wearing a hospital gown were shown. Her face was covered in bruises and swelling.  Lama asked in a mocking tone, “What person in the world would be in the mood for sex with the defendant?  ‘You can’t leave me like this Jeffrey make love to me.’ Are we really to believe that?” In addition to the facial bruising, Lama said there was bruising to the woman’s lower body — buttocks, hips, arms and legs — that indicate she was in fact attacked and raped. The woman was not cleared to work normally at her job again for around two weeks.
  • Horton didn’t report the alleged “consensual sex” to police because he, actually, raped the woman: Lama said Horton had the opportunity to tell four police officers on March 25 that he and the woman made up and had sex. “Wouldn’t you tell them the one part of the story that mitigates what you’ve done?” She said that Horton’s claims that he didn’t mention it because police were treating him unfairly were untrue. She said he didn’t mention it because it didn’t happen as he says it did. So why would he turn himself in to police at all? Lama said, “If you get to mom and dad first, you might have a better chance of being believed.”
  • The digital evidence: There were a slew of messages taken from Horton’s phone as evidence in the trial and many were shown to the jury. There are texts showing arguments about where to meet or not meet, about the relationship being over, about how much Horton loved the woman, among many other topics. But one in particular, Lama said, is a clear depiction about Horton’s intent the night of the crime. It was sent from him to his sister after he was released from jail on March 25. In it, he asks his sister to not tell anyone he and the woman had sex because it’s possible he could be charged with rape. Horton said he sent that text after a lawyer told him it was possible. Lama, however, contends that the text was sent because he knew the woman might accuse him of rape. Digital evidence also shows that Horton searched the internet for phrases relating to the crimes he committed, such as burglary and rape before he turned himself in to police and before he was charged with rape.
  • Why would she lie? Moynihan, despite being adamant that the woman is lying about being raped, did not offer a reason for why the woman would lie about being raped. Lama asked the jury,”What could possibly be her motivation to lie here?’…Did this look like fun for her?’’ She said that when the jury was done reviewing the evidence, they would come to one conclusion — that Horton is guilty of all the charges against him. “All you really have to do is use your common sense,” she said.