Prosecutors in the case against Tom Sizemore have urged jurors to ignore the actor's celebrity and convict him of "astonishing" abuse toward his ex-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss.

But Sizemore's lawyer hit back during his closing argument yesterday (12AUG03), accusing the former Hollywood Madam of inventing the allegations against the screen star as part of an extortion plot.

Jurors were expected to begin deliberating today (13AUG03) after a widely-watched trial in Los Angeles, spanning over several days.

The BLACK HAWK DOWN star is charged with 16 counts of abuse, criminal threats, witness intimidation, vandalism and obscene and annoying phone calls. He is accused of physically abusing Fleiss on at least four occasions including an altercation outside his Los Angeles home that left her bleeding from the back of her skull.

Deputy City Attorney ROBERT CHA told the jury, "It's astonishing when you consider and appreciate the cruelty and abuse over the better part of two years that the defendant Tom Sizemore inflicted on Heidi Fleiss."

Cha said equally disturbing was what he described as Sizemore's mental "torment" of Fleiss, reflected in more than 70 recorded phone messages heard by the jury.

Sizemore's lawyer Michael Fitzgerald used his remarks to launch a blistering attack on Fleiss' character, calling her a "liar" and an ex-felon who cared only about money.

He told the jury, "You will always inevitably come back to the testimony of Heidi Fleiss that is a foundation of sand on which the prosecution chose to build its case and the tide is going to come rushing in."

Fitzgerald said the jury could conclude that the reason Fleiss saved all of the phone messages from Sizemore was so that she could later sue him.

He added, "The crime here was extortion. The crime was not these phone calls."

13/08/2003 20:54