Jury receives Burton case; deliberations begin

With the witness stand silent and the attorneys’ debates concluded, the fate of alleged rapist Antonio Burton is now in the hands of the jury.
Prosecuting attorney Steve Redding and defense attorney Joseph Margulies offered their closing arguments Wednesday afternoon in Hennepin County District Court.
Redding’s summary divided the two weeks of testimony — including emotionally driven statements of victims and witnesses, matter-of-fact police accounts and tedious scientific exposition — into two categories: DNA evidence and non-DNA evidence.
Either, he said, is enough to convict Burton.
“But it’s not one piece of evidence,” Redding said, with his finger directed at Burton. “It’s the total package … Over and over again, the evidence keeps pointing to this man.”
Margulies’ arguments reiterated his assertion that while Burton was present during the attack and is guilty of robbery and burglary, the evidence in no way suggests that Burton is the rapist.
“You can mock me, you can mock my client, but you can’t mock the evidence,” said Margulies repeatedly, who said that testimony claiming Burton bragged about the rapes came from unreliable or disgruntled sources.
“You heard enough to know that that is far too slender a reed to support the weight the state would place upon it,” Margulies said.
Margulies also attacked DNA evidence, citing expert testimony that the findings were inconclusive because they could have come from urine, not semen as the state claims.
“And that’s all they got!” Margulies said, pounding the podium.
Redding labeled that assertion a “fantasy.”
Burton is accused of 11 counts of aiding and abetting robbery, burglary and criminal sexual conduct stemming from an October 1996 break-in during which two female University students were raped.
Four men were implicated in the incident — Burton is the last to face charges. So far, none have been convicted of the rapes. All have plead guilty to or stood trial for robbery.
The jury will begin deliberations at 9 a.m. A verdict is likely today.