PM Update: The jury has found Braunstein guilty of 14 of the 15 charges. He was acquitted of the arson charge (the fire he started in order to convince the victim to open up her apartment door as he posed as a firefighter).
Lawyers for Braunstein do not deny that their client held a former co-worker captive in her apartment for hours as he assaulted and tortured her, but they claim that the former journalist is so mentally ill he didn't realize what he was doing was wrong. Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that Braunstein knew exactly what he was doing when he planned an attack carefully for weeks and attacked his victim because she was a "surrogate for his former girlfriend...and for the fashion industry and everyone else who had ever rejected or humiliated him," as the NY Times puts it. Here are some quotes from the two sides:
Defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb:
- "A verdict of not guilty is nothing more than saying that on Halloween 2005 in apartment 4-J, Peter Braunstein was sick."
- "One fact, one undeniable truth has become clear during this trial, and that is that Peter Braunstein was very ill. He was very, very sick on Halloween of 2005.” (Metro)
- On prosecution witnesses who disagreed with defense claims that Braunstein was a paranoid schizophrenic: "Call it an orange, call it a banana... It doesn’t matter what you may choose to call it. Mr. Braunstein was undeniably mentally ill on Oct. 31, 2005.” (NY Daily News)
Prosecutor Maxine Rosenthal:
- “He came prepared. He brought the rope, the tape, the gun, the knife, the chloroform, the video camera, the gloves and the cough medicine...He was fully aware of what he was doing.” (NY Times)
- "Nobody is arguing that the defendant is the picture of mental health. Clearly, that is not the case.”(Metro)
- "This was about a vendetta. This is an arrogant, jealous, manipulative and vindictive man.”
The Post says that Braunstein "appeared to glare angrily" at Rosenthal during her closing arguments, which was unlike his "zombie-like stupor" during the trial. And there was a brief moment of levity during Gottlieb's closing: The News reports that a juror's cellphone rang, prompting Gottlieb to say, "That's the 'Mission Impossible' theme! Oh, no!"
The jury begins deliberations today. After testimony from the victim, Braunstein's ex, doctors, and others, as well as bits of his diaries, all of which have offered bizarre tidbits like how Braunstein wanted to kill Anna Wintour and how Braunstein wanted to lead a gang of Katrina survivors, the jurors have a tough job. And the tricky thing, as the trial's judge conceded, was that each of the charges requires intent. From the AP: "This is not a case in which the jury is being asked by the defense to find the defendant not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, he noted. Rather, the judge said, the panel is being asked to consider that mental illness contributed to what the defense says was Braunstein's lack of ability to form criminal intent."