Editor’s note: This story includes details about sexual assault that some people may find upsetting. If you or someone you know has been domestically or sexually assaulted, contact the police or the Tompkins County Advocacy Center. The center provides free services for people of any race, ability, religion, immigration status, gender identity or sexual orientation. The 24-hour hotline is (607) 277-5000 and more information about the center can be found here. 


ITHACA, N.Y. — The jury now has the case of Jeffrey Horton, who is on trial for 11 charges including rape, burglary, assault, and stalking. The case will come down to who the jury deems credible — Horton or the victim. Horton’s legal team claims he slapped her for a few seconds and then they had consensual make-up sex. However, the prosecution argues that Horton brutally beat and raped her.

Defense Attorney Kristine Shaw and Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama presented closing statements Wednesday afternoon after three-and-a-half days of testimony. During the trial, the jury heard from the victim, medical professionals, police officers, forensic scientists, and other people involved. They also saw evidence, including images of the victim with bruises. Horton did not testify in this trial, though his full testimony from the previous trial was read to the jury Tuesday.

Jeffrey Horton Trial: View more coverage from the trial here

The jury was sent home Wednesday afternoon after closing statements and will begin deliberations Thursday morning. Deliberations in the previous case were spread over two days.

Two versions of what happened the night of March 24 and early morning of March 25, 2015 were presented to the jury.

The victim testified Friday that in the days leading up to when she said she was beaten and raped by Horton in her home, she started to pull away from her relationship with Horton. The jury saw text messages Horton sent the victim between March 20 and 24, ranging from, “I’m sorry, I miss you,” to “That’s it, we’re done” to more degrading messages saying, “Take your pimple covered body down to Binghamton and go f—.” She repeatedly told Horton to leave her alone, text messages show.

On the night of March 24, the woman said she had locked her doors and gone to sleep around 10 p.m., but she was woken by Horton in her bedroom turning on the lights. She detailed how he tied her up with rope, hit, slapped and bit her and penetrated her with a vibrator and his penis. In the early morning of March 25, Horton turned himself in to state police and admitted to slapping and hitting the woman for “10 to 15 seconds.” The woman also reported the assault to police that morning but did not say she had been sexually assaulted. “I was absolutely petrified,” she said when asked why she did not initially report being raped. She reported it a day later.

Horton did not testify during this trial, but he did testify in the previous trial. His testimony from the 2016 trial was read into the record Tuesday for the jury to hear.

According to Horton, the sex he and the woman had that night was consensual. On the night of the alleged sexual assault, Horton said he came into her house through an unlocked back door and entered her bedroom. He admitted to slapping her for 10 to 15 seconds and punching her at least once. He said he planned to go home after hitting the woman, but she asked him to say. He said she told him, “You can’t leave me here like this. Make love to me.” He previously testified that when he saw her face swollen, he decided to turn himself in to police.

Defense attorney Kristine Shaw presents closing statements Wednesday. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)
Defense attorney Kristine Shaw presents closing statements Wednesday. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

‘There is reasonable doubt in this case’

Shaw is representing Horton along with Jerome Mayersak. In closing statements Wednesday, Shaw told the jury that the prosecution has the burden to prove Horton is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“There is reasonable doubt in this case,” Shaw said. “He says, she says, that’s what this comes down to. His credibility, her credibility. Everything we hear outside of the courtroom out there tells us, ‘Believe her.’ The #MeToo Movement. Political correctness. And that’s not wrong necessarily, but that’s not your job here.”

Shaw told the jury they need to critically look at the evidence “keeping in mind that relationships are messy, that sometimes they aren’t politically correct. And sometimes when our private lives become public, it can be humiliating.”

Shaw went through several areas of evidence she said make the victim’s story not add up. She said the woman’s injuries were consistent with Horton’s story that he slapped her and punched her, and a lack of marks on her wrist seem to indicate she was not bound with rope. She also urged the jury to listen to the 911 call again between the victim and police. Shaw said to listen to her the victim’s voice. “She is not emotional,” she said. Shaw said the victim was untied at one point while Horton left the bedroom, yet did not get up to close and lock the door. Shaw told the jury they could infer it was because “she wasn’t really feeling threatened.”

After going through other areas of evidence, she said, “Why are we here? Why would someone make these allegations up if they weren’t true? Remember relationships are very messy.” She said people get angry and hurt sometimes. The victim was probably justifiably mad, angry and hurt, Shaw said, because she had been hit.

“But the anger and the hurt were compounded when she explains to another person that Jeff beat the crap out of her and then, after that, they had consensual sex,” Shaw said. “Think about the reaction that comes after that if that is what she told people. … That’s embarrassing. That’s humiliating.”

Shaw said Horton is “far from perfect” and did some awful things. She said the jury should probably find him guilty of stalking and menacing. She asked the jury to weigh evidence and assess credibility when deliberating.

Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama gives closing statements in Tompkins County Court. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)
Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama gives closing statements in Tompkins County Court. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

In closing statements, Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama said Horton’s story is “too absurd to be believed.”

Lama said the victim locked her doors the night of the attack and did not want to engage in sexual activity. She had told Horton to leave her alone six times and ignored 10 of his texts and 31 of his calls that evening, Lama said.

“You now know why (the victim) locked her doors that night,” Lama said. “The question for you, members of the jury, is what happened next? Was it a case of (the victim) wanting Mr. Horton to show up unannounced as she slept and 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 (the victim) truly wanted to be left alone. She did not want Mr. Horton entering her home that night. She did not want him to beat her up and she did not want to engage in sexual activity with him.”

Lama said if they truly had make-up sex after he beat her up, the last thing Horton would do is leave the woman he loved beaten up, go to police, and not get her medical attention or figure out a plan. Instead, she said Horton raced to the authorities to be the first one to shape the narrative.

Lama also went through areas of the evidence she said support the victim’s testimony. She said the woman’s injuries are evidence of sexual assault, not just slapping. In response to why the woman would not have locked the door when Horton left the room briefly after she got untied, Lama said the woman testified she was afraid he would kill her.

“The defense wants you to believe, needs you to believe that (the victim) is lying, that she’s making this whole thing up about sexual assault,” Lama said.  Lama asked what the victim’s motive could possibly be to make up a story about sexual assault and go through so much public scrutiny.

“Using your common sense, we ask you to find the defendant guilty of all of the charges,” Lama said.

Featured image: Jeffrey Horton listens to his attorney Kristine Shaw address the jury with her closing statement Wednesday. (Kelsey O’Connor/The Ithaca Voice)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.