The jury was sequestered Thursday after media representatives heard about testimony that will not be allowed during the trial of state Sen. Darrell Renstrom, accused of forcible sexual abuse.
The six men and two women in the 2nd District Court jury spent the night in a hotel before hearing closing arguments, scheduled for Friday morning.Renstrom, 57, D-North Ogden, is accused of picking up a 19-year-old North Ogden man on June 22 and grabbing the teenager's genitals.
Prosecuting attorney Brian Namba asked that rebuttal witnesses be allowed to testify about the senator's past sexual activities, but District Judge VeNoy Christofferson ruled against Namba because he said the testimony would prejudice the jury.
The witness testified on Thursday that Renstrom, asking directions, picked him up as he was walking along Washington Boulevard.
The young man said Renstrom told him he was from out of town and wanted directions to some local bars.
Once he was inside the car, the witness said Renstrom started talking about his sexual experiences and suggested to the young man that he engage in homosexual acts. He also said that Renstrom pulled out a novelty measuring device, or paint stick.
Namba had hoped that his rebuttal witnesses would be allowed to testify that they had similar experiences with Renstrom. Namba told the judge that the witnesses would tell the jury that Renstrom would park along Washington Boulevard and approach them asking directions. The attorney said in the judge's chambers, with reporters present, that the witnesses would say that Renstrom would tell them he was from out of town and needed help.
Namba also said that the witnesses would have backed up the young man's testimony that Renstrom would discuss words of a sexual nature inscribed on the stick.
Renstrom has denied all the allegations and called the witness a liar.
The senator admitted to picking up the teenager and giving him a ride, and also that the paint stick was in the car. However, he denied he had any physical contact with the youth or discussed sex.
Renstrom said he picked up the hitchhiking man, and he turned the teenager down when the young man asked for $20 to buy drugs.
When the man kept insisting on money, Renstrom said he told the man to get out of the car or he would call the police. Renstrom said the man got out of the car, slammed the door and said, "I'll get you first."
When asked if the witness' testimony was true, Renstrom replied, "He is lying . . . . This is his fantasy."
Under cross-examination from Namba, Renstrom said he had a habit of picking up hitchhikers and people who were just walking down the street.
When asked if he were a homosexual, the senator firmly replied "No," while defense attorney Randy Richards yelled "Mistrial."
The attorneys and reporters then moved into the judge's chambers, where Namba tried to convince the judge that his line of questioning is relevant to the case. "The nature of the crime is homosexual," Namba said.
But Richards replied, "You can't go out there and slander his name before a jury."
Christofferson denied a motion for a mistrial, and ruled against Namba for his line of questioning.