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.”

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He says he began slapping the woman, straddled himself on top of her and grabbed her arms telling her that if she didn’t want to be hit, she shouldn’t hit him. He said the slapping lasted 10-15 seconds.

“I admit I went overboard,” he said.

Horton then said he tried to leave the home, but the woman, allegedly, had other plans.

“You can’t leave me here like this. Make love to me,” Horton previously said he was told by the woman.

Moynihan said during closing statements, “Sometimes releasing that anger against each other — it’s a strong emotion — sometimes that turns to passion.’’

He said that Horton was trying to do the right thing when he turned himself in to New York State Police when he left the woman’s house early on March 25.

Along with recalling Horton’s testimony during closing statements, Moynihan pointed out the following flaws in the accusations against his client (Note: These are some but not all of the points Moynihan mentioned during the more than hour-long closing remarks.)

  • The delay of the rape charge: Moynihan said the woman had about eight chances to report the rape to police officers, her sister and friends but did not do so. He said that the woman knew those people were trying to help her, and the fact that she waited to report the incident casts enough doubt on the claim that it might not have happened. “it’s a terrible thing to make up, tell a story about…” Moynihan said.
  • Police officer exaggerated: Moynihan said that a Dryden police officer – a new, young cop — crucial to the case exaggerated claims he made on the stand. For instance, the officer said he saw red marks and bruising on the woman’s wrists, indicating that she’d been restrained, as she reported, with a rope. In a video, though, the same officer from the time of the report said he did not see marks. Moynihan called the photos of the injuries “the worst photos I’ve ever seen” and said again that the remarks were exaggerated. “The injuries do not support that…they do not support that story. There is no rope.” He also said the officer did not adequately question the claims against Horton — such as the fact that the woman said Horton entered the home through the doggy door. The doggy door, which the officer misrepresented as larger than its actual size, was too small for Horton’s more than 200 pound frame to squeeze through, Moynihan said.
  • Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiner was biased:  Moynihan said that the nurse who looked over the woman after she was abused had an unfair bias. He reminded the jury that the nurse said on the stand that it is her job to collect evidence or physical or sexual abuse. He said it is not the nurses job to collect evidence that shows there was no sexual abuse. He also pointed at the fact that there were no trauma to the woman’s various body parts that indicate she was sexually abused, though the nurse said there does not have to be trauma for sex abuse to have occurred.
  • Horton told people he had sex with the woman the night of the crime: Moynihan said that despite Horton not telling police about the alleged sex that happened that night, he was not quiet about it to others. Moynihan listed several people with whom Horton mentioned the sex. “He tells the people who are there to help him the full story”
    This indicates that Horton was not trying to hide that fact that the two had sex and that he likely didn’t mention it to police because having sex is not a crime.

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?

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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.

For live coverage of the trial follow reporter Jolene Almendarez in the feed below or @jalmendarez57 on Twitter.



If you or someone you know has been a victim of abuse, contact the Advocacy Center in Ithaca, New York.