Closing arguments heard in trial of former prison guard accused of rape and kidnapping

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SUNBURY, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Closing arguments in the trial of a former Northumberland County prison guard accused of rape and kidnapping were heard Wednesday morning. 

A jury of seven men and five women will now begin deliberating a multitude of charges against former SCI Coal Township corrections officer John Kurtz — including, rape, kidnapping, and attempted kidnapping.

In his nearly hour-long defense closing, attorney Michael Suders argued against the validity of the prosecution’s primary evidence, namely IP data from Google that showed the defendant had searched for information about one of the victims, as well as DNA analysis that forensic scientists say link Kurtz to three of the crimes.

Suders claimed that because the DNA was not tested as a random sample, it failed to meet the typical standard for evidence. He also argued that confessions offered to investigators by Kurtz himself were made under coercion, and should be disregarded.

The prosecution, meanwhile, was quite matter of fact in their approach, cataloging the evidence in its totality and listing the timeline of events, supplemented by accounts provided by the defendant. They closed by reinforcing that never once did Kurtz ask why he was being detained or questioned — a point ADA Julie Skinner said shows that Kurtz in fact knew all along.

Given the volume of charges in this case, it’s still unclear how long the jury will be out for. As the trial now turns into a waiting game, Eyewitness News will remain at the Northumberland County courthouse.

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