Assistant DA Coleen Balbert wrapped up five hours of "blistering" closing arguments yesterday in the trial of two cops charged with raping a drunken woman in her East Village apartment in December 2008. The case will be handed over to the jury this morning, and they'll go into deliberations with Balbert's damning remarks still fresh in their minds. "These two were supposed to be New York City's Finest, but on December 7th, 2008 they were New York City's worst," Balbert told the jury, and went on to derisively tear apart Officer Kenneth Moreno.

"In his mind, he probably believed there was some kind of relationship here, with this drunk girl passed out on the bed," Balbert said, according to the Times. "He probably didn’t believe that he was committing a sexual assault. He believed there was more between them." To support this theory, Balbert cited the secretly recorded conversation between Moreno and his accuser, in which she told him she remembered him removing her clothes. Instead of denying it outright, Moreno was caught on tape saying, "a lot more happened between there." As Balbert sees it, this shows Moreno was "finding ways to justify what happened in his mind."

At the end of Moreno's conversation with the woman, the audiotape documents him telling her he would be a good friend to have. "Who would say that?" Balbert asked the jury. "It was obvious that he liked her. You saw her. She’s a pretty girl. She was pretty on that night, too. She just was drunk and couldn’t consent to sex." The prosecution's case operates on the premise that the woman was so drunk she could not consent to the alleged sex, thus making it rape.

The defense has argued that she was capable of walking up the stairs to her apartment without assistance, and thus capable of saying no to sex if she didn't want it. At the same time, lawyers for Moreno his partner Franklin Mata maintain that there was no sex, just some spooning, and maybe some other stuff Moreno is too much of a gentleman to "kiss and tell" about. The defense has sought to portray the accuser as a slatternly alcoholic who can't remember much of that night, but in her closing arguments Balbert told the jury, "The things she doesn’t remember show how physically helpless she was, how drunk she was."

Defense lawyers have also emphasized the prosecution's lack of forensic evidence. Yesterday Balbert said, essentially, that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, and that the D.A. didn't need DNA to prove rape beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We don't have to prove semen beyond a reasonable doubt," she said, according to the Post. "We don't have to prove injury beyond a reasonable doubt. We don't have to prove condom beyond a reasonable doubt... The fact there is no semen or DNA from that night is because he used a condom and took that and the wrapper when he left."

And referring to Moreno's testimony that he didn't look like a rapist, Balbert contemptuously asked, "What does a rapist look like? Does he have to have 'rapist' tattooed on his forehead?"

Update (9/9/11): Gothamist has published a long-form feature about the Rape Cop case, written by one of the jurors. It takes you behind the scenes during their deliberations, and explains how they came to their controversial verdict. Buy it today as a PDF or on Kindle.