MANHATTAN (CN) – A jury will begin deliberations Wedneday in the case of two New York City cops who allegedly burglarized and raped a drunken 27-year-old woman they helped escort home.
Ultimately the case boils down to two “irreconcilable” stories, a prosecutor told the jury on Tuesday.
The alleged victim admittedly had memory issues from a night of heavy drinking to celebrate her move to California, but the parts she said she remembered were corroborated by the evidence at trial, Assistant District Attorney Colleen Balbert said.
On the other hand, the cops on trial have demolished their credibility by placing an admittedly fake 911 call, lying on the witness stand, and falsifying records to keep their colleagues from knowing that they were breaking into the woman’s apartment four times, Balbert continued.
“They were supposed to by New York City’s Finest,” Balbert said. “On Dec. 7, 2008, they were New York City’s worst.”
Dubbed the “rape cops” by local tabloids, Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata said that that they responded to a cab driver’s call about a woman who needed help, which they insisted they gave.
A recovering alcoholic, Moreno swore that he checked up on her privately in her bedroom and bathroom four times to counsel her about her alleged drinking problem, while his partner took a nap in the living room.
Moreno claimed that he rebuffed the woman’s advances, until he innocently spooned with the woman at one point on the bed. But he said he never told his partner what happened because, “I don’t kiss and tell.”
The prosecutor mocked that remark.
“According to him, there’s no kissing, so what’s there to tell,” Balbert asked.
The real story was that the cops found a “strikingly pretty,” 27-year-old Gap executive, staggering drunk, according to the prosecution. They took her keys, drew her into her apartment, closed the blinds and invented false pretenses to break in again until Moreno had the opportunity to rape her.
Mata, she said, waited in the woman’s living room, not to nap, but to alert his partner if their patrol was looking for them.
Later, the woman confronted Moreno at the precinct, and secretly recorded him say that he used a condom.
But Moreno denies that he had sex with her, claiming that he was trying to calm her down.
Although Moreno’s attorney reportedly described his client as a “simpleton” during the trial, the prosecutor said the cops were “not stupid,” but took careful steps to cover up their actions.
Balbert said that the first of the four times they entered the apartment – the only time they were assigned to 27-year-old’s home – the cops radioed, “‘It’s a 91,’ meaning problem corrected.”
Since they lied to their superiors for the rest of the night, there would have been nothing tying them to the allegations it if not for a surveillance camera that recorded them returning three more times, Balbert said.
She noted that Moreno admitted he posed as a Canadian tourist to a 911 dispatcher to get an assignment to “check up” on the woman.
To prepare for the last visit, she said, Moreno and Mata signed into his precinct for a meal, then slipped out the back exit and drove their private cars to the woman’s apartment for another “checkup,” when prosecutors believe the rape occurred.
The prosecutor started talking about the details about the alleged rape two hours after describing the cover-up.
“It was a night of criminal activity, as you just heard, and it ultimately ended in the sexual assault,” Balbert said.
Although she slipped in and out of consciousness, the woman said she felt herself as “dead weight” as she awoke to her tights and underwear being rolled down, as she lay face down and immobile on the bed.
The prosecutor said that the condition in which her clothing was found confirms her account, and a subsequent doctor’s examination uncovered an erythema, or red skin irritation, on the woman’s cervix – an injury consistent with the position she said the rape occurred.
The woman also testified that she heard Velcro being pulled when she awoke.
The prosecutor said this memory was crucial because few civilians know this material is used for bullet proof vests.
Moreno’s defense attorney Joseph Tapocina said that there was “no sex” because the rape examination did not find semen, lubricant or other injuries.
Balbert countered that Moreno wore a condom, and an expert testified that no lab in the country tests for lubricant. That witness also said that half of all rape victims report no injuries at all, while 5 percent usually report cervical injuries, which are almost always erythemas.
Ultimately, however, the prosecutor said the case came down to the credibility of the woman and the two cops, all of whom testified.
Although the woman acknowledged the times when she blacked out, Moreno was caught in a lie while trying to appear “heroic,” Balbert said.
During cross-examination, Moreno said he did not get the woman an ambulance because he once witnessed a man die from cardiac arrest because the ambulance took so long.
Moreno said the man, Jimmy Daniels, died while he was trying to administer CPR, but Balbert said that evidence showed that the ambulance arrived on the scene more than 10 minutes before his records say he was there.
“[Moreno] is willing to twist this poor man’s death to make him look heroic,” Balbert said.
Moreno also claimed to have stepped on a cockroach in her bathroom, although a picture showed the belly-up insect with its exoskeleton intact.
Balbert blasted the idea of Moreno providing counseling for alcoholism as a “shameful” lie. A liver test did not establish that the woman had a drinking problem, she added.
The prosecutor said Moreno may not even have believed he was raping her by having sex while she was unconscious. Balbert noted that the cop had promised to be the woman’s friend when she confronted him about the alleged assault in the taped conversation.
“According to him, it was going well,” Balbert said.
Regardless, the prosecutor said, it was a crime, which she said would not have been possible without Mata as a lookout.
If convicted, Moreno and Mata face up to 25 years in prison.