Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Leiser told a federal jury in Alexandria yesterday that four videotapes and nine magazines exceeded the level of general community acceptance for sexually explicit materials and should be found obscene.

In rebuttal, defense attorney Paul Cambria told the panel that in judging the acceptability of the materials, it had to consider the whole community, "including people you may never meet." The jurors, he said, must decide whether the community has "a level of acceptance that permits a wide variety of materials, whether or not you want them . . . . "

The jury will begin its deliberations today in the trial of three Northern Virginians -- Dennis E. and Barbara A. Pryba of Fairfax County and Jennifer Williams of Woodbridge -- who are the first distributors of sexually explicit materials charged with federal racketeering.

The precedent-setting case has attracted widespread interest because a racketeering conviction allows the government to seize a defendant's entire assets, including materials that are not judged obscene and are protected by the First Amendment. Successful prosecution of the Prybas would provide the government with a powerful new tool in its legal battle against pornography.

If the jury determines that the videos and magazines sold by the Prybas and their firm, Educational Books Inc. of Upper Marlboro, are obscene, and therefore illegal, the panel would then take up the racketeering charges.

In considering the obscenity issue, the jury will be applying the so-called Miller test, named for a 1973 Supreme Court decision that set guidelines for juries in obscenity cases. That decision said materials are obscene if "the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest . . . describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct . . . and lacks serious literary, political, or scientific value."

In summary arguments, both sides held up the videotapes and magazines, stating they were the heart of the case. "I defy you to find anything in these magazines which has any serious value -- political, scientific, social or literary value," said Leiser.

"Look what they're doing to this woman!" he added, pointing to a picture in a magazine called Torment.

Defense attorneys presented no witnesses. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III excluded one defense witness, ruling his telephone survey of Northern Virginia residents on the subject of sexually explicit materials was irrelevant.

Defense attorneys declined to call a second expert witness, Ohio-based criminologist Joseph E. Scott, after Ellis said he would allow only limited testimony by Scott because his conclusions were not based on scientific methods of research.

Without the jury present, Scott testified he visited about 70 video rental shops in Northern Virginia and found that 47 of them rented X-rated materials. Conversations with shop personnel, Scott said, led him to conclude that "the overwhelming majority {of videotape renters} do at one time or another, rent sexually explicit materials."

Also yesterday, Ellis released a written opinion stating that the racketeering statute's forfeiture provision was not unconstitutional. "Postconviction seizure of arguably protected materials and assets is constitutionally permissible where there is proper proof that they were acquired or maintained with the ill-gotten gains from racketeering activity, including dealing in obscenity," he wrote.

Although severe, forfeiture does not amount to a "prior restraint on constitutionally protected speech, he said.