Ross Ulbricht
Ross Ulbricht, 30, admits to creating the Silk Road website, but says he promptly gave it away to Dread Pirate RobertsFreeRoss.org

With no more evidence to be seen, a 12-person jury will decide if Ross Ulbricht is the real-life identity of Dread Pirate Roberts, the mastermind who created and ran the Silk Road drug-dealing website.

Standing trial in New York, Ulbricht, 30, faces charges of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic fraudulent IDs, with a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

But the most serious charge is of engaging in "continuing criminal enterprise," a charge usually reserved for the leaders of organised gangs and which can add at least 20 years to the maximum sentence.

After sitting through three weeks of evidence from the FBI, computer experts, witnesses and Ulbricht's defence team, the six-man, six-woman jury must now decide his fate.

'Silk Road was his baby...his passion'

The trial's closing arguments saw the prosecution claim Ulbricht ran the Silk Road website from its creation in early 2011 to its closure by the FBI in October, 2013. Prosecutors describe the Texan as a power-hungry kingpin who used threats of violence and murder to protect his multimillion-dollar drug empire.

Silk Road "was his baby, and he stayed with it enthusiastically for nearly three years," assistant US attorney Serrin Turner told the court. "It was his secret livelihood. It was his passion."

But Ulbricht's defence team, lead by lawyer Joshua Dratel, disagree entirely. They say that, despite Ulbricht creating the website as an "economic experiment," he gave it away to an unknown person soon after, and was only lured back to take control when the FBI was about to strike.

Defending Ulbricht against a journal and chat logs found on his laptop detailing the inner working of Silk Road, Dratel claims the evidence could have been planted by the real Dread Pirate Roberts to make Ulbricht "the perfect fall-guy".

Dratel told the court: "The internet denies us the ability to say for sure...what is transparent and what is hidden. You never know who precisely is on the other side of that computer."

Keeping journal 'a little too convenient'

Disagreeing, and pointing to the journal, chat logs and Silk Road administration pages found on Ulbricht's laptop, seized during his arrest, Turner said: "There were no little elves that put all that evidence on the defendant's computer."

But Dratel says a criminal mastermind like Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), obsessed with keeping their identity secret, would not write everything down in a diary.

Dratel said there are "a lot of blinking neon signs in this case that have been created to incriminate Mr Ulbricht, and I submit to you that DPR was doing it. Keeping a journal like that and saving it on your laptop? A little too convenient. Does that sound like [Dread Pirate Roberts]?"

Jury deliberations will begin on 4 February and a decision could be reached before the end of the week.