NEW YORK, AUG. 8 -- Taking the jury on a final six-hour reprise of the case against three Harlem youths charged in last year's brutal beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park, the prosecutor said today that the defendants should pay for a horrifying "spree of uncontrolled violence that went wild."
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer, in closing arguments of a case that became a racial flash point in New York, portrayed the three teenage defendants as willful, eager participants in a scheme of rape, robbery and attempted murder.
"These boys had their fun in Central Park," Lederer told the jury. "They have nobody to blame for their predicament but themselves.
"They showed no mercy, and they had their trial," she said. "Now they deserve a just and fair verdict, and the only fair verdict is guilty on all counts."
The trial of Raymond Santana, 15, Antron McCray, 16, and Yusef Salaam, 16, has become increasingly tense for several weeks. Fifteen minutes into today's summation, a group who have come faithfully to support the defendants walked out of the Manhattan courtroom, formed a circle in the hallway and began to pray.
Jury deliberations are to begin Thursday morning.
The defense has contended throughout the eight-week trial that the case was brought against the youths because they were poor, black and Hispanic and happened to be in Central Park on the night of April 19, 1989, when the white jogger was beaten and raped. She was so brutally injured that doctors who testified expressed astonishment that she survived.
Lawyers for each defendant repeatedly have asserted that the trio's confessions -- oral, written and videotaped -- were coerced by police and given out of fear and confusion.
Lederer spent hours today reminding jurors of the conditions under which McCray and Santana each gave highly detailed videotaped confessions to police. Salaam did not provide a confession but did tell detectives that he played a role in the attack.
Lederer showed key segments of the confessions, including a description of how the victim was beaten with a brick while being raped. Lederer brought the jogger's T-shirt for the jury to see again. Once white, it was stained so severely with her blood that it is rust-colored.
Despite the brutality of the crime and the furor it caused, there is virtually no physical evidence other than the confessions that links any defendant to it.
Tests showed that no blood, semen, DNA or hair found in the park or on the jogger matched that of the three defendants.
None of several people attacked that night could identify an assailant, and the 30-year-old jogger has suffered a traumatic injury to her brain and cannot recall the incident.
"You now know what happened in Central Park because it is in the written, oral and videotaped statements the defendants gave the police," Lederer told the jury. "You know it from their own words."