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August 28, 2014

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Jury opens deliberations in Saudi airman’s 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.

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 | 9:35 p.m.

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 closing 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.

Earlier during the trial, jurors watched an interrogation video where Alotaibi admitted to sexual activity with the boy.

Alotaibi’s attorney Don Chairez argued that detectives should not have interviewed Alotaibi because he was drunk. He also said his client was too intoxicated to have intentionally committed the crimes.

Alotaibi told police he had been drinking Hennessy cognac all night before he met the boy on the morning of Dec. 31.

Police detectives and Circus Circus security guards testified that Alotaibi didn’t appear drunk.

“People get drunk all the time. No matter how drunk you are, if you didn’t sodomize a little boy, would you say it?” prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth asked the jury.

Both sides addressed that the boy hadn’t been honest with the police at first.

Earlier in the trial the boy, now 14, admitted on the stand that he had lied when he said Alotaibi dragged him into the hotel room. The boy testified that he had approached the defendant in hopes of scoring marijuana.

Prosecutors said the boy had nothing to gain from lying about the rape. Telling security about the rape only caused the boy to have to admit to marijuana use, undergo an invasive medical exam and talk about a mortifying experience in front of strangers in a courtroom, Bluth said.

“Why go through those things if that didn’t happen to you?” Bluth asked.

Alotaibi watched the testimony from the defense table, listening to an Arabic translation of the proceedings through an earpiece.

Chairez attempted to move the jury through what he characterized as powerful storytelling by telling them the plot of the Academy Award-wining film “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Prosecutors let him get through a good chunk of the plot, but eventually objected, saying the film had nothing to do with the case.

Chairez said outside the courtroom that he was using the film to help show Saudis in a positive light and that storytelling is allowed in closing arguments.

Chairez read a book on the topic entitled “Twelve Heroes, One Voice” during trial as the judge gave instructions to the jury.

Chairez said he also considered telling the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” as well as “Arabian Nights.”

He said “Arabian Nights” would have been fitting since it is about a woman who must keep telling a new story each night to stay alive, which he likened to the boy changing his story.

He said he also considered recounting the plot of “The Hangover” but decided the movie’s tone would be inappropriate considering the seriousness of the case.

The jury will convene again Wednesday to deliberate the verdict.

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

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