The jury in the trial of State Sen. Darius Brown began deliberating Thursday morning after prosecution and defense attorneys delivered their closing statements.
Deputy Attorney General Zachary Rosen told the jury during his closing remarks that on May 16, 2021, Brown became jealous and angry while dining with his accuser before getting out of his seat, walking over to the victim, “punching” her and throwing a glass at her, which shattered.
Brown’s defense attorney painted a different picture of what went down at Taverna Rustic Italian Restaurant that day.
Bill Rhodunda of Rhodunda, Williams & Kondraschow, said the trial was the result of a “story that was spun by (the victim) to make my client look bad.”
He said that while witnesses bought into her story, Brown could not possibly have struck her because she was too far away from the end of the table, and that the martini glass he’s accused of throwing at her was knocked over accidentally.
Rhodunda argued that two of the witnesses were faced away from Brown and the victim when the incident occurred and a third witness was in a completely separate part of the restaurant.
The witnesses backed up the victim’s version of events, Rhodunda argued, because after Brown left the restaurant, the woman stayed behind where she convinced them of her version of the story.
Rhodunda noted that the alleged incident happened out of frame of the only surveillance camera in that part of the restaurant.
Rosen questioned Rhodunda’s claim that the glass was accidentally knocked over during his rebuttal.
“It was an accident?” Rosen asked the jury. “An accidental break of the glass? Then why did he leave? Why didn’t he stay and help her clean it up?”
Rosen said that if the victim “spun a story” that “she did a real good job because she got three people she’s never met before in on it immediately.”
The prosecutor implored the jury to use their common sense when deliberating Brown’s innocence or guilt.
“That’s not common sense,” he said of Rhodunda’s argument that the whole thing was a lie concocted by the victim.
Rhodunda said the arrest was made only after the bartender at the restaurant told the responding State Trooper that he witnessed Brown “punch” the victim.
But in a follow up statement and while testifying under oath during the trial, the bartender said that he did not witness the punch and said that in his statement to the police because that was his impression at the time.
Rhodunda suggested that the bartender and other witnesses only changed their story after they watched the video and realized it didn’t corroborate their claims.
Rosen acknowledged the inconsistencies between the witness statements and their courtroom testimony in his closing remarks.
“Did you hear minor inconsistencies with witness statements from the earlier statements they made the day the incident and six months later,” Rosen asked the jury. “Of course you did. That’s kind of the nature of these things.”
Rosen also submitted to the jury that a bouquet of white roses that Brown “anonymously” sent to the victim the day after the incident proved that Brown was conscious of his guilt.
The roses included a note that said “I Love You 50-11 Times,” which was an inside reference between Brown and the victim that essentially means, “I love you a lot.”
Rosen asked why he would choose to remain anonymous in sending the flowers unless he had something to feel guilty about.
But Rhodunda said the roses were anything but anonymous. Brown included the phrase “50-11” precisely so the victim would know that the roses were from Brown, he argued.
In order to be found guilty of offensive touching, prosecutors said, the jury must find that the state demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that Brown intentionally touched the victim either with a part of his body or with some instrument, such as the martini glass or even the liquid inside of the glass, knowing that the victim would likely be offended or alarmed by his actions.
He could also be found guilty of the lesser charge of attempted offensive touching if the jury determines that he was trying to get liquid on the accuser.
To be found guilty on the second charge of disorderly conduct, the jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Brown intentionally caused a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another person.
Rosen argued that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Brown is guilty of both charges.
To that, Rhodunda said, “There is plenty, plenty, plenty of doubt.”
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