By Drew Singer
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (Reuters) - Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the trial of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping an incapacitated 16-year-old girl rested their cases on Saturday after testimony from the accuser, and the judge said he would render his verdict the next morning.
Presiding over the non-jury trial, the judge heard closing arguments then adjourned to weigh evidence from four days of testimony, capped by the accuser tearfully acknowledging she had little memory from the night of the alleged assault.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, two members of the Steubenville High School football team, are charged as juveniles with raping a girl by digital penetration while she was essentially unconscious from heavy drinking at a party.
If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, and be required to register as sex offenders.
The judge said he would announce his verdict in court at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday.
Mays and Richmond have denied raping their accuser and say that any sexual contact that occurred was consensual.
The case drew national attention to the Ohio steel town of Steubenville, 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, after photo and video images, as well as Twitter banter, were posted online appearing to document the alleged assault and its aftermath.
Taking the stand as the final witness of the trial, the accuser recounted drinking vodka mixed with store-bought frozen slushies at a party that evening, then finding herself sitting on a curb early the next day with her hands between her legs, vomiting into the street.
She testified that she otherwise had no recollection of her own of what happened in the early hours of August 12, 2012, when witnesses in the case have said she was too drunk to move or talk.
Under its policy of keeping the names of accusers in rape cases confidential, Reuters is not identifying the girl.
The girl testified that she only learned what had happened to her from text messages, pictures and other information posted on social media by classmates who witnessed the alleged assault. Some of those witnesses have testified.
Prosecutors displayed to her some of the pictures that circulated on social media, including one that showed her naked with what prosecutors say is semen on her stomach.
The girl started crying as she looked at the photo, saying she had never seen it before.
"Who is that in the photo?" prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter asked.
"Me," the girl answered.
"How does it make you feel?" Hemmeter asked.
The girl also testified that when she finally went to the hospital, after seeing a video in which classmates joked about the incident, she was reluctant to identify her alleged assailants.
When Hemmeter asked her why, the girl replied: "Because honestly, I was praying that everything I heard wasn't true. I didn't want to get myself into drama because I knew everyone would just blame me."
Defense attorneys have questioned whether the witnesses in the case remembered details from the party or were just repeating rumors that circulated afterward through their social groups or from investigators looking into the rape allegations.
After cross-examination of the accuser by defense lawyers, who sought to highlight inconsistencies between her testimony and accounts of others, the two sides rested their cases and presented their closing arguments.
Hemmeter argued that the very things that made the accuser "an imperfect witness (also) made her, in every sense of the word, a perfect victim."
"She was substantially impaired, and they treated her like a toy," the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Walter Madison countered that among the witnesses called by prosecutors, "neither of their stories matches up."
He added: "The reality is somebody's telling a lie. ... Her friend told this court she has a reputation for telling lies."
Two former friends of the accuser - Kelsey Weaver and Gianna Anile - told the court on Saturday that she was known for fabricating stories.
Weaver, 17, testified the accuser had told her she liked Mays. Weaver also said she watched the accuser drink four shots of vodka and two beers and flirt with Richmond on the night she says the rape occurred.
Weaver said the accuser told her she thought she had been drugged as well - a conclusion Weaver said she did not believe. Asked by the defense why she had doubts, Weaver said, "Because (she) lies about things."
Weaver and Anile were with the accuser on the night of the alleged rape. Both testified that they ended their friendship with her because of the accusations.
(Writing by James B. Kelleher; editing by Steve Gorman and Xavier Briand)
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