At Silk Road Closings, Jurors Hear Conflicting Accounts

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In closing arguments Tuesday, a prosecutor urged jurors to follow the "digital fingerprints" of the San Francisco man who created the underground website Silk Road and to convict him of operating a worldwide online drug network, but a defense lawyer countered that evidence proves his client's innocence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Serrin Turner told the Manhattan federal court jury that evidence in the three-week trial overwhelmingly proved 30-year-old Ross William Ulbricht created the site and operated it for nearly three years, until his 2013 arrest. "He custom built Silk Road to be an online storefront for drug dealers," Turner said. "He manned the cash register to make sure he got his cut from every sale." Turner said jurors should look at evidence from Ulbricht's laptop computer, his nightstand, his social media accounts, his trash can and "everywhere else you've seen his digital fingerprints."

Ulbricht's attorney, Joshua Dratel, struck back at the government's account, saying his client quit Silk Road soon after creating it and before the website was overrun by drug dealers. "Ross Ulbricht is not guilty of each and every count in the indictment," Dratel said of charges carrying a potential penalty of life in prison. The lawyer told jurors to distrust some evidence because "the Internet is not what it seems." He noted that an investigator — the trial's first witness — established dozens of identities on Silk Road. "You never know who precisely is on the other side of that computer screen," he said. Judge Katherine Forrest said the jury would get the case Wednesday.


--- The Associated Press