Jury hears final arguments in child-rape case

Both attorneys in the child rape trial of Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Kleinfelder told a compelling story during their closing arguments Monday morning in the courtroom of Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay B. Roof.

The problem for the jury was the two stories were completely different.

Kleinfelder’s lawyer, Clifford Morey, claimed the young girl who has accused the deputy of having sex with her on numerous occasions, couldn’t make up her mind what happened.

He claimed the girl’s tale of gradual seduction, from kisses, to “making out,” to oral sex, and finally intercourse, didn’t ring true.

“She adds details each time she gives that story,” he told the seven-man, five-woman, all-white jury. “It’s like a Harry Potter book. She’s adding details as she goes along.”

Morey also pointed out that the alleged victim, who was 13 and 14 during the period Kleinfelder allegedly had sex with her, while she was babysitting for the Kleinfelder family, was much better describing the alleged “making out” than the sexual intercourse itself.

“That’s not the way it (sex) works,” he said. “But that’s the way it looks if you’ve only seen it on television. The story she told is like TV — flat, not three-dimensional.(Her story) doesn’t have the smells, the taste, the feeling that you have (when having sex).”

Morey concluded by talking about a “protruding” rib Kleinfelder’s current girlfriend testified he has, which she claimed was very distinctive. The girl mentioned moles and freckles the defendant has, but not the rib.

“She never mentions the deformed rib,” Morey said. “Without the rib, this story’s a fib.”

Deputy Prosecutor Neil Wachter of the County’s Special Assault Unit, had the last word, as the state, which has the burden of proof in a criminal trial, always does.

“This is not about a rib,” he said. “This is not about (O.J. Simpson attorney) Johnnie Cochran. The defendant admitted they wrestled. He pinned her. His body against hers. Wearing as little as a t-shirt.”

Wachter reviewed how the deputy allegedly escalated the intimacy between himself and the babysitter less than half his age.

“This relationship was everything to her,” Wachter said. “But to the defendant, it was a relationship of convenience. This is about whether the state has proven its case. Not about whether the defendant is a good person or not.”

Wachter reminded the jury that Kleinfelder admitted telling the teenage girl about his deteriorating marriage; he has since left his then-wife and is in the process of a divorce. The prosecutor also addressed the defense claim that none of the police officers who hung around the Kleinfelder home noticed anything unusual between the cop and the kid.

“Do we always see what’s wrong when it’s really close to us?” Wachter asked.

He also addressed the ever-present physical contact between the 31-year-old, six-foot-three deputy and the then 13-year-old girl (now 15).

“Doesn’t it seem a little odd that wrestling is a part of a mentor relationship?” Wachter asked.

“There’s somebody guilty in this courtroom,” Wachter continued, raising his voice. “It is the defendant,” he said, pointing dramatically at the deputy seated just a few feet away.

The jury received the case around noon Monday. Judge Roof set the hours of deliberation from 9 to 4:30 each day, with breaks for lunch.

If the jury cannot reach a verdict by the end of each day they will be excused to their homes until the next morning.

Judge Roof admonished them not to talk or read about the case until after a verdict is reached and announced.

Kleinfelder is charged with two counts of child rape and four counts of child molestation. If convicted on all six counts, Kleinfelder could face as much as 20 years in prison.

The jury's job is simply to determine Kleinfelder’s guilt or innocence, and not the punishment if he is convicted. That will be Judge Roof’s job if a guilty verdict is returned.

The trial took two weeks and featured dramatically divergent testimony from the alleged victim and the accused.

As Wachter said in the opening remarks of his closing argument to the jury: “You have some decisions to make. Who is telling you the truth?”

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