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St. Lawrence County sex-assault trial goes to jury

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CANTON — James Sabre Jr.’s future lies in the hands of a St. Lawrence County jury.

The 44-year-old Waddington man’s sexual-assault trial concluded Tuesday afternoon, with his case turned over to jurors after 3 p.m. Jurors deliberated for over an hour before being sent home for the day. Deliberations are set to resume at 9:30 a.m. today.

Sabre, who is accused of attempting to assault three women on three different dates in 2010, resumed his testimony Tuesday, the final witness to speak before closing arguments.

According to prosecutors, Sabre knew all three women and tried to force himself on each of them.

Speaking about the woman he allegedly assaulted in a bar entrance, Sabre testified that they were social acquaintances and often had done drugs together prior to that night in summer 2010.

“She realized that I smoke weed, she smoked weed, and that’s how the relationship started,” Sabre said. “It was mostly marijuana-related.”

Sabre testified that the woman was seeking cocaine from him the night they sneaked away from a post-bar gathering at his home under the pretense of looking for the woman’s lost phone.

He denied that he tried to force himself on the woman in a bar foyer, as she previously testified. Rather, he said the two began “kissing and hugging and stuff like that,” until Sabre saw one of the woman’s friends approaching and thought it was the woman’s boyfriend. The two then stopped and exited opposite doors of the foyer.

Sabre also said that while he had never had a sexual relationship with the woman, she had on previous occasions grabbed his buttocks and genitals while socializing at the bar.

Sabre also disputed the version of events given by a third victim, who claimed he grabbed her by the wrists and tried to sexually assault her in a reclining chair at his home one night. They had gone there after Sabre drove an intoxicated friend home in the woman’s car when they left the bar together. According to Sabre, the woman smoked marijuana with him, listened to music and danced, and then they began

kissing in the chair. The woman stopped, Sabre said, saying, “Bucky, I can’t do this” because she was friends with his ex-girlfriend.

“It ended. No is no,” Sabre said.

Defense attorney Peter A. Dumas, in his closing, urged the jury to be skeptical about whether the prosecution had met the burden of proof.

“Really, there has been a lack of evidence here,” Mr. Dumas said. He said there was no medical evidence, no physical evidence and no eyewitness evidence with respect to any of the alleged attacks, merely “he said, she said” allegations.

Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen told the jury to be mindful of inconsistencies in Sabre’s testimony compared with statements he gave a county investigator in 2010, as the jury heard in a recording of his interview.

In particular, Ms. Nissen asked the jury to consider why Sabre was heard mentioning only marijuana and pills to the investigator when asked about drug use at the bar, but not cocaine, as he later mentioned in court. None of the women, Ms. Nissen countered, had any “motive to tell you something other than the truth.”

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