Story provided by Journal Tribune.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The case against Mark Strong Sr., the Thomaston man accused of assisting Wells resident Alexis Wright in a prostitution business allegedly run out of her Kennebunk Zumba fitness studio, will likely culminate in a verdict March 6 as the jury mulls weeks’ worth of evidence and testimony.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their closing arguments at York County Superior Court on Tuesday, with Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan contending that the state has shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Strong was actively engaged in what she says was illegal activity at Pura Vida studio and a nearby Kennebunk rental property.

McGettigan, drawing on witness testimony, as well as secretly recorded videos of Wright engaged in sexual acts and discussing monetary payment with alleged clients, advised the jury to consider the lease agreement for the studio, on which Strong’s name appears as a co-signer.

Also proof of Strong’s guilt, according to the state, are computer hard drives filled with hours of those videos, which were recorded using streaming video conference software called Skype. Videos were found on hard drives confiscated by law enforcement agencies at the fitness studio, as well as a nearby property being rented by Wright, which purported to offer nutrition counseling. Corresponding snapshots of the videos were found on hard drives and computers belonging to Strong.

“You can find the defendant guilty based on just that alone,” said McGettigan, but added that further evidence — including emails, text messages and detailed ledgers documenting specific sexual acts that were found on both sets of hard drives — should erase any reasonable doubt of Strong’s involvement in the supposed enterprise.

“This is more than a mere voyeur,” said McGettigan. “This is a business partner.”

Earlier in the day, defense attorneys made a motion to dismiss several of the counts against Strong, who faces one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution, and 12 counts of promotion of prostitution. Of those 12 counts, one alleges Strong’s involvement from October 2010 to February 2012; the remaining 11 counts charge Strong with involvement during specific time periods within that nearly 16-month interval. Defense attorney Dan Lilley argued that those 11 counts should be thrown out due to redundancy.

“The first count has all of the time frame,” said Lilley. “If there’s any count that should survive,” he said, it should be that one.

The defense also made a separate motion for dismissal of counts, based on what it claimed was the prosecution’s failure to define “promotion” with the requisite specificity.

With those motions denied, the defense called two witnesses: Strong’s brother, James Strong, and Kennebunk police Lt. Daniel Jones.

James Strong largely used his testimony to defend his brother’s character, claiming that Strong was active in his community, coaching high school basketball and serving as an umpire for youth baseball, as well as volunteering at a local hospital.

“He was extremely active in community affairs,” said James Strong, who said he borrowed money to pay for his brother’s bail subsequent to his arrest last year.

Jones, meanwhile, testified that he had conducted an informal investigation into the conduct of Kennebunk Police Officer Audra Presby, who authored an affidavit insinuating both Strong and Wright’s culpability in the alleged prostitution business. Last year, Presby was cited for violating the department’s personnel policy after becoming involved in a romantic relationship with a senior officer. That officer subsequently left the department of his own volition, and Presby continues to work for the department in the same capacity.

In his closing argument to the jury, Lilley acknowledged that Strong viewed streaming video of Wright engaging in sexual acts, but said viewing and possessing pornography did not constitute a crime. There is reasonable doubt, he claimed, that Strong was actively involved in aiding Wright with her alleged prostitution activity, and claimed that Strong made no money in the venture.

“You’re here for one reason and one reason alone,” Lilley told the jury: To determine “whether the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Before sending the jury home, Justice Nancy Mills gave them one final “stipulation,” or piece of information that can be regarded as pertinent evidence in deliberations. The stipulation: That 18 patrons of Wright have pleaded guilty to engaging a prostitute, and that none have seen or spoken to Strong.

The jury is expected to reach a verdict sometime March 6.

Journal Tribune Staff Writer Jeff Lagasse can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or