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Closing arguments delivered as Patrick Durocher trial moves toward resolution

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Before the start of Wednesday's session, and in the absence of the jury, Hampshire Superior Court judge Mary-Lou Rup, right, discusses with councilors what will be included in the instructions to the jury. From left are defendant Patrick Durocher, 20, of Longmeadow, his attorney, Vincent Bongiorni of Springfield and prosecutor Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl. (Courtesy of Kevin Gutting/Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Before the start of Wednesday’s session, and in the absence of the jury, Hampshire Superior Court judge Mary-Lou Rup, right, discusses with councilors what will be included in the instructions to the jury. From left are defendant Patrick Durocher, 20, of Longmeadow, his attorney, Vincent Bongiorni of Springfield and prosecutor Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl.
(Courtesy of Kevin Gutting/Daily Hampshire Gazette)

NORTHAMPTON — Jennifer Suhl stood before jurors Thursday in Hampshire Superior Court and asked them to remember testimony delivered in the rape trial of former University of Massachusetts student Patrick Durocher.

The Assistant Northwestern District Attorney pointed to a specific moment, the first words Suhl said the alleged victim uttered after a group of people encountered Durocher laying on top of the woman on the Campus Center lawn in September 2013.

Suhl said in her closing arguments that the group helped the woman and carried her away from Durocher. And before the woman said anything else, she repeatedly asked the group to “please help me,” according to Suhl.

“Is that the first thing someone would say after having consensual sex?” Suhl asked the jurors.

The woman accuses Durocher of raping her outside the Campus Center on Sept. 2, 2013. Durocher, who faces charges of aggravated rape, kidnapping and assault and battery, has pled not guilty and maintained throughout the nearly two-week trial the sex was consensual, even testifying Wednesday that the woman initiated the intercourse with him.

Both Suhl and Durocher’s attorney, Vincent Bongiorni, delivered closing arguments in Hampshire Superior Court Thursday morning. Judge Mary-Lou Rup instructed jurors that these arguments were not substitute for evidence and the jurors’ opinion ultimately controlled the outcome of the case.

Suhl spent most of her argument deconstructing Durocher’s testimony from Wednesday, saying there is “basically nothing” to corroborate his story against witness testimony. Suhl said during opening statements that Durocher followed the woman home from a fraternity party, pinned her against a tree by her neck, then dragged her to the ground and raped her.

She said Thursday that Durocher rendered the woman unconscious. The woman testified that she could only remember specific instances from the night, and Suhl reminded jurors the woman’s blood alcohol content was a .22 at 5 a.m., more than four hours after the incident took place.

The woman testified that she remembers waking up to being raped, and that she had never met Durocher before.

“She was blackout ladies and gentlemen,” said Suhl as Bongiorni quickly objected.

The back and forth

Bongiorni’s argument told a significantly different account. He argued that both the woman and Durocher were in control of their actions, and built a specific timeline for jurors using witness testimony.

He argued the sex began at 12:15 a.m. and that “nobody was intoxicated to the point where they were falling down.” Bongiorni showed jurors a photo taken of Durocher on the top of the woman, which he said shows the woman’s legs bent around the man. At points, he argued, it’s clear her legs weren’t lying flat as the prosecution has said.

Bongiorni said the pair met at the party, danced and walked back. He said the woman initiated the sex with Durocher – turning around on the pavement near the Campus Center and beginning to kiss and arouse him.

“If a young lady starts doing that to him, what do you think is going to follow?” he asked jurors.

Bongiorni contended the woman changed her story several times over the course of the night, and that when loaded into the ambulance following the incident she said, “I’m so embarrassed. I feel so gross.”

He argued the woman never once said she was raped by a stranger and only accused Durocher after photos of the incident were posted to Twitter. He also asked jurors if Durocher, who Bongiorni said never left the scene after witnesses arrived, exhibited the actions of “an individual who is guilty.”

Instead, Bongiorni argued his client used a condom and didn’t run away. He said he’s sure the alleged victim “drank too much,” but at the specific time of 12:15, her condition was not yet seriously affected.

“Her memory begins to fail only when we ask her about the contradictory statements she has made,” Bongiorni said.

Suhl attempted to use much of Durocher’s testimony from Wednesday against him on Thursday.

She reminded jurors that the woman needs to be conscious, alert and able to consent throughout the entire time of sexual intercourse. She asked jurors that if it was convenient that, according to Durocher, the woman only became unconscious when passerby approached. Suhl added that Durocher’s first reaction to witnesses arriving was “why are you blowing up my spot?”

Suhl also argued that Durocher’s recollection of the night, especially of the woman leading him to the lawn to engage in sex, was “implausible” based off witness testimony.

“That might’ve been what Durocher fantasized about happening, but the evidence is clear,” she said.

Suhl said the evidence – such as witnesses never saw Durocher remove a condom and the woman’s vaginal and neck injuries – worked against Durocher’s testimony, and asked the jurors if that was consistent with consensual sexual intercourse.

Suhl circled back to cite the woman’s initial testimony at the end of her argument, admitting the woman was embarrassed and saying the woman didn’t want her parents to learn about the incident because she feared they would learn she was raped.

Suhl ended her arguments by telling jurors the woman’s blood alcohol content was even higher than a .22 at the time of the incident, and was blackout drunk.

“If she was incapacitated, she could not consent,” Suhl said.

The jurors were scheduled to hear instruction from Rup regarding the law following the closing arguments. Jury deliberations are expected to begin this afternoon.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

1 Comment

One Response to “Closing arguments delivered as Patrick Durocher trial moves toward resolution”

  1. Tony Dennis on February 5th, 2016 11:02 am

    nice writing

    [Reply]

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