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Man whose cyberbullying allegedly led to death of Tyler Clementi asks for acquittal

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NEW JERSEY -- A new chapter opened on Wednesday in one of the country's premiere cases of cyberbullying.

Tyler Clementi was 18 years old when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge six years ago, after his Rutgers University roommate led a group of students in spying on and ridiculing Clementi for being a gay man.

On Wednesday, that roommate, Dharun Ravi, 24, had an appeal heard in the case, four years after he'd been sentenced to and served nearly a month in jail for invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and tampering with evidence and witnesses.

His lawyers, in appellate court on Wednesday without him present, asked a panel of three judges to throw out Ravi's conviction and erase it from his record.

They argued that since the New Jersey Supreme Court last March struck down a provision in the state's bias intimidation law that requires consideration of the victim's state of mind, and because that now-annulled provision constituted the grounds by which Ravi was convicted, that his conviction should now be declared null and void.

Middlesex County prosecutors, however, argued that Ravi's sentence had been too lenient. They had originally asked for a 10 year sentence for him, and petitioned the judges to impose a longer sentence on him, even though Ravi ha already been behind bars.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, of which he was required to serve 20, as well as three years' probation and fines.

Clementi's family and a couple of dozen supporters were in court for the hearing.

They did not speak with reporters, but did release a written statement that said, in part, "We are hopeful that the appellate court will analyze the legal issues it has been asked to review with depth and care so that the law in this important area will be well reasoned and clear."

The judges are expected to issue their decision in the case in for four or five months.