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September 18, 2014

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Opening arguments begin Saudi airman’s child-rape trial

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Defense attorney Don Chairez addresses judge Stefany Miley (not pictured) about his opening statements during the jury selection process for the trial of Mazen Alotaibi, left, in justice court, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Mazen Alotaibi Hearing

Mazen Alotaibi appears in Las Vegas Justice Court for a hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, January 17, 2013. Alotaibi is charged with burglary, first degree kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault with a minor and sexually motivated coercion. Launch slideshow »

Attorneys gave their opening statements today to the jury that will decide the fate of the Saudi air force sergeant accused of raping a 13-year-old boy last New Year’s Eve.

Mazen Alotaibi, 24, has pleaded not guilty to nine felonies, which include first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor and lewdness.

If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

During the trial, two Arabic interpreters sat behind Alotaibi, taking turns whispering translations into a transmitter that feeds into a listening device in Alotaibi’s ear.

Prosecutors say Alotaibi cornered the boy in Alotaibi’s bathroom of his hotel room and had rough anal and oral sex with him.

Alotaibi’s attorney Don Chairez told the jury the boy had led prosecutors on a wild goose chase. Chairez painted the alleged victim as a child prostitute who was hitting up his client for money and marijuana and couldn’t keep his story straight.

Prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth acknowledged that the boy hadn’t been honest initially, saying the boy was embarrassed and didn’t want to get in trouble for trying to score some pot, Bluth said.

The boy originally told police Alotaibi had dragged him into the defendant’s hotel room. Later he admitted he'd been the one to approach Alotaibi and his friends.

The boy had been waiting for a friend to wake up for breakfast early on Dec. 31 when he noticed Alotaibi and a group of his friends, who were returning from a night of partying at a strip club, according to attorneys.

Alotaibi's friends told the boy he had to scram because he was too young, but Alotaibi continued to hang out with him and the two smoked pot and eventually went back to the room, where Alotaibi raped him, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors aren’t hinging the case on the boy’s testimony.

Bluth told the jury that the prosecution would show footage of Alotaibi appearing to lick or kiss the boy’s ear and neck in an elevator, which will be backed up with a DNA swab.

The jury will also hear from an array of witnesses, including someone who was staying with Alotaibi, hotel security, a DNA expert and the nurse who evaluated the boy and saw bruising in his throat and several anal injuries.

If that isn’t enough to convince them, Bluth told the jury, she thinks Alotaibi’s own words should suffice.

The prosecution plans to play an interrogation video of Alotaibi.

Chairez attempted to block the video from being admitted into evidence arguing that a night of drunken partying and a language barrier prevented Alotaibi from understanding what was going on.

In the beginning of the video, Alotaibi denies everything, but then slowly begins to concede little details. At one point he remarks, “Yeah, maybe he wanted it. He was just chilling out.”

Chairez told the jury the case involves two key factors: The boy’s testimony and the DNA evidence. Chairez said he doesn’t think either one holds up.

While the prosecution plans to present DNA evidence from Alotaibi found on the chest, genitals and in his boxers, Chairez questioned why there wasn’t more DNA evidence in the areas that would have the most contact in an instance of oral or anal sex.

The trial will pick up at 1 p.m. Monday.

The prosecution is expected to call the alleged victim early on in the trial, which is anticipated to take at least five days.

Alotaibi remains in Clark County Detention Center on a $1.72 million bail.

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