This morning a jury is deliberating the fate of the formerly closeted anti-gay Pentecostal minister accused of killing a woman in his congregation. Prosecutors say Robert Reaves was rebuffed after making sexual advances toward a former college basketball star who rented a room from him ... so he stalked and killed the man's girlfriend in revenge. Defense attorneys suggested prosecutors have the wrong man, reports the News & Observer.
Defense lawyers tried to convince the jury... that Steven Randolph, not Reaves, had a motive for the killing. They suggested Randolph, an aspiring professional basketball player, was worried about a sexual liaison he had with Curtis hours before she was found dead. Randolph testified last week that a condom had come off during the encounter, causing him and Curtis to worry about the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.
George Kelly, one of the attorneys representing Reaves, tried to lay out a case against Randolph, using a series of cell phone calls and text messages between him and Curtis shortly after their liaison. "The motive in this case was not a rebuffed sexual advance. There's not an emotional bind whatsoever," Kelly said in his closing arguments. "You have a player, a condom and an adulterous affair. He didn't want to lose his future."
The college basketball star testified Reaves offered free rent in exchange for oral sex. Randolph's whereabouts were accounted for, police say. Reaves claims he was in church at the time; the congregation and videotape dispute that. Investigators also found the murder weapon in Reaves' car and his DNA was on the victim's steering wheel. Reaves car was also seen near the crime scene, adds WRAL.
Part of the state's case was based on a state trooper's testimony that he saw Reaves' car at 1:36 a.m. on Jan. 30, around the same time that defense attorneys said Randolph told investigators that Reaves' car was at home. Reaves had told investigators no one else used the car. Defense attorneys argued it was impossible for their client to have committed the crime, but they never explained how Reaves' car might have gotten on I-540 if Reaves was home at the time.
Investigators have additional evidence that Reaves, the former minister at the fundamentalist Cedar International Fellowship in Durham, made "unsuccessful advances toward other male friends and [also] took revenge on their girlfriends." Reaves has twice been charged with sexual misconduct with young boys.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Reaves faces life in prison if he is found guilty of first-degree murder. The judge says he will allow the jury to consider second-degree murder as well.
The Reaves Trial on Rod 2.0:
Closeted Anti Gay Bishop on Trial for Revenge Murder
Opening Arguments in Trial of Closeted Anti-Gay Minister
Roommate Says Pastor Offered Free Rent for Oral Sex
Prosecution Rests in Murder Trial of Anti-Gay Closeted Pastor