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Published November 20 2012

Jury in Norberg case to begin deliberating Wednesday

FARGO – Attorneys debated the alleged victim’s credibility during lengthy closing arguments today in the trial of Fargo surgeon Jon Norberg, who is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting his wife.

Prosecutor Gary Euren referred to Alonna Norberg testifying about what happened to her on the night of June 16-17, 2011. She told jurors it “was not oral sex” when she briefly awoke and found her husband forcing himself into her mouth.

“You remember the raw emotion in her voice when she said it? That’s the essence of this case,” said Euren, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney.

“This case is not about her diagnosis or her medications or how many there were,” Euren continued. “It’s not about the divorce. It’s about Alonna Norberg being drugged with propofol and Dr. Jon Norberg having sexual intercourse with her in various forms. That’s the case.”

Defense attorney Robert Hoy asked jurors if they would rely on Alonna Norberg’s word to make important decisions and said the state has “not one shred of physical evidence” to support her allegations.

“If Alonna Norberg is not credible and you do not believe what she has said, the state’s case crumbles,” Hoy said. “There is no case. It’s as simple as that.”

After listening to nine days of testimony and nearly four hours of closing arguments and rebuttal, the jury got the case at 5:25 p.m. and was sent home for the day.

Judge Douglas Herman ordered the jury of seven women and five men to begin deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. If they aren’t close to reaching a verdict by 3 p.m., they will be released for the Thanksgiving weekend and will resume deliberations Monday.

Jon Norberg has pleaded not guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony punishable by up to life in prison, and one count of reckless endangerment, a Class C felony carrying a maximum penalty of five years.

If jurors find him not guilty of one or both of those charges, they must consider a lesser included offense under each charge.

Under the gross sexual imposition charge, the lesser included offense is a Class A felony punishable by 20 years in prison. It doesn’t include the element of the crime that Alonna Norberg had serious bodily injury inflicted upon her, rendering her unconscious.

The lesser offense under the reckless endangerment charge is a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to one year in prison, and it excludes the element that the defendant manifested extreme indifference to human life.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528