Rape trial continues for two ex-Vanderbilt football players

January 15th, 2015 by Staff

Brandon Vandenburg (left) stands next to his attorneys in court on Wednesday.

(WSMV.COM) NAHSVILLE, Tenn. – Several witnesses testified in an explosive day of court for two former Vanderbilt football players charged with raping an unconscious woman in a dorm room.

In his opening statement on Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman described the victim, saying her life had a promising future until she met a new man, Brandon Vandenburg, who changed her life forever.

The jury got a firsthand account of what happened that night from students who were there, including several current and former Vanderbilt students.

Thurman had a graphic, detailed account of a night of partying, drinking and later, the alleged rape.

“You’ll be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that these defendants are guilty of every count … They not only violated the laws of this state, but the very principles of human decency,” said Thurman of the defendants, Vandenburg and Cory Batey.
Thurman said the court will see the graphic videos and photos associated with the case.

Worrick Robinson, attorney for Batey, made the case that his client was “very inebriated” that night and that he “had a blackout.” He said no DNA evidence or fingerprints belonging to Batey were found in the dorm room.

In his opening statement, Vandenburg’s attorney, Fletcher Long, said the state’s details of the incident are full of inaccuracies. He also reiterated to the jury that they should question who is telling them what. 

“The evidence is not going to show that he personally did any of it. Zero for seven,” Long said.

The common opening theme from the defense teams was to question the validity of the upcoming testimonies that Brandon Banks and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie will give. Both men allegedly participated in the assault but will be testifying for the state in the trial.

In the courtroom, Batey and Vandenburg showed little outward emotion while the victim sat in tears as the room listened to the graphic details.

Two friends of the victim and a former football player testified about the night of the alleged incident, saying they saw both the victim and Vandenburg at Tin Roof.

Lt. Donnie Harville with the Vanderbilt University Police Department then took the stand to describe the surveillance video captured on cameras inside the dormitory where the incident allegedly took place.

Harville said it appeared Vandenburg carried the victim from car outside the building into the dormitory. The court was in the middle of hearing his testimony when Judge Monte Watkins decided to adjourn for the day just before 4:30 pm.

Earlier in the day, the 14-person jury was seated after about a day and a half of selection. The jury is made up of five men and nine women. Two of the men are black and three are white. Of the nine women, two are black, six are white and one is of Middle Eastern descent.

Court will resume at 9 am. Wednesday.

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