By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The police officers accused of raping a drunk woman they were called to help were "supposed to be New York City's finest," but turned out to be "New York City's worst," prosecutors said Tuesday.
Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29, acted more like the sexual predators they're supposed to defend against than the NYPD officers they were trained to be, Assistant District Attorney Coleen Balbert said in closing statements in their trial.
"They had a pretty 27-year-old girl in that apartment who was drunk, alone and vulnerable, and they didn't want anyone else to know that," Balbert said.
Moreno is charged with stripping off the woman's clothes and raping her while she lay unconscious and facedown on her bed on Dec. 7, 2008.
Mata allegedly helped his older partner by standing guard and helping to hide their true whereabouts from their supervisors after Moreno concocted a fake 911 call to help buy them time, prosecutors said.
They are each charged with rape, burglary and official misconduct. Both face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The ADA argued they fabricated a story to cover up Moreno's sexual encounter with her while she was not awake and that he countered her story about what she remembered with lies that were based on the woman's testimony.
"What we learned about officer Moreno when he testified, on the stand, is that he is absolutely willing to do absolutely anything and everything to make himself look better to make himself look heroic, or to believe he is a good guy and to explain away his criminal behavior," Balbert said.
"The only thing that was honest about Officer Moreno's testimony was his name," the prosecutor added.
He lied about almost everything he testified to about the night he spent in the woman's apartment — including his claim that he distinctly recalls killing a roach on the white tile floors in the woman's bathroom.
She blew up a photo of the roach on a large screen so jurors could see that it was belly-up and clearly not squashed, as he claimed he did while the woman was bent over the toilet and vomiting.
Balbert said the officers lied about their whereabouts that night and did not tell their supervisors they made three return trips to her apartment, so it would be a short jump to lying to jurors from the witness stand.
She said Moreno admitted that he placed a bogus call to 911 to buy them more time to be alone with the woman.
Moreno came up with a lie about a homeless man threatening his girlfriend in a snap phone call to 911, which should tell jurors "how quickly he could fabricate and make up a lie," Balbert said.
They also lied in their patrol log, and destroyed their memo books in order to cover their tracks, prosecutors said.
"This case is about violating the very laws that they swore to uphold," Balbert said in her summation.
Balbert said they lied on the stand when they claimed that Moreno simply "snuggled" with the victim while Mata fell asleep on her living room couch.
Moreno had argued they entered her apartment a total of four times between about 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. that morning so he could "counsel" her because he was a recovering alcoholic who knew what she was going through.
He also said she complained that she was lonely and welcomed Moreno's companionship that night, which prosecutors have argued makes no sense considering she has several friends living in her building and had a host of other friends at her party — many of whom testified at trial.
"... All of a sudden on Dec. 7, 2009 she's so lonely and needs Kenenth Moreno? It's absurd," she said.
Lawyers for the officers have argued the the DA has not sufficiently proved that any sex occurred because there was no physical evidence of rape recovered from the scene by authorities.
But Balbert told jurors biological evidence is not necessary to prove rape.
The trial, before Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gregory Carro, opened last month. The case is expected to go to the jury on Wednesday morning after the jurors receive instruction on the law.