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Computer expert testifies at Ohio rape trial

Associated Press
Trent Mays, 17, left, and 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio. Mays and Richmond are accused of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl in August of 2012. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool)
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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A computer expert began testifying Thursday about her analysis of cellphones seized in the investigation of two Ohio high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl.

The evidence about 17 cellphones to be presented by computer forensic specialist Joann Gibb is considered crucial to prosecutors' case against the boys because of photos taken the evening of the alleged attack in August.

Gibb was expected to be on the stand for several hours at the trial in Steubenville in eastern Ohio.

Earlier Thursday, police officers and witnesses from phone service providers testified about how the phones were gathered through search warrants and the types of records subpoenaed from the phone companies.

The football players' trial began Wednesday as a contest between prosecutors insisting the girl was too drunk to consent to sex and defense attorneys portraying her as someone who was intoxicated but still in control of her actions.

The two players, Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond, maintain their innocence.

Special Judge Thomas Lipps is hearing the case without a jury.

The case has riveted the small city of Steubenville amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.

Richmond and Mays are charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after a party Aug. 11 and then in the basement of a house. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

Witnesses said the girl was so drunk she threw up at least twice and had trouble walking and speaking.

Three teenage boys who are key to the prosecution's case are still to take the stand this week. Defense attorneys could call the girl to testify since a West Virginia judge ruled Tuesday night that she and two of her friends could be subpoenaed.

If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be held in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.

The Associated Press normally does not identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus

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