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Opening statements heard in Waddington man’s sex-assault case

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CANTON — Opening statements late Thursday afternoon capped three days of jury selection in the sexual-assault trial of a Waddington man in St. Lawrence County Court.

James Sabre Jr., 44, of 56 Oak St., is accused of sexually assaulting three women in summer, fall and winter 2010 at different locations in Waddington.

“This is a case about opportunities, opportunities that came the defendant’s way that he seized upon,” Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen said in her opening statement to the jury.

According to Ms. Nissen, Sabre knew all three women, ages 24, 28 and 40, and tried to force himself on each of them, once at a woman’s home when he knew she was there alone; another time at the entrance to a bar when he took a woman there late one night to retrieve a lost phone, and the third time at his own residence, where he had driven a woman after a night of drinking.

Sabre is charged with felony first-degree sexual abuse, felony second-degree burglary, second-degree burglary as a sexually motivated crime and four counts of felony first-degree attempted rape.

“This isn’t going to be a complicated case with a lot of bells and whistles,” Ms. Nissen told the jury; rather, “what we have here is a case of three women who will come in and testify about what the defendant did to them.”

Defense attorney Peter A. Dumas opened by asking the jury to be mindful of “the evidence presented or lack of evidence presented,” as Judge Jerome J. Richards previously instructed them to do when considering a verdict.

“This is a case that hinges almost completely on credibility,” Mr. Dumas said.

“I want you to ask yourselves, ‘What is the connection between these people? Where are the connections?’”

Without giving specifics, Mr. Dumas concluded by exhorting the jury to listen closely to defense witnesses, adding that “once you listen to them, you’ll hear the holes” in the prosecution’s case.

The trial resumes today.

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