Jurors in Oklahoma officer's trial disband for 2nd night

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 11:47 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jurors in Oklahoma City ended a second day of deliberations Tuesday night without a verdict in the case of a former police officer accused of sexually victimizing 13 women in the neighborhood he patrolled.

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, met for nine hours Monday and for nearly 12 on Tuesday, before disbanding for the night around 10:15 p.m.

They are set to resume their work Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

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, and 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.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, about three dozen demonstrators, mostly black women, chanted "36 counts ... we want life" as they circled the building.

"We are out here today to say, 'We believe you,'" said Grace Franklin, one of the demonstration's organizers.

The noise from the protest could be heard inside the courtroom where the jury was deliberating, so District Attorney David Prater asked Franklin to move the group away from the windows of the courtroom. They complied.

"We want the jury's decision to be based on the evidence, not any outside influence," Prater said.

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.

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Associated Press writer Tim Talley contributed to this report.