Trial against former Vanderbilt players accused of rape postpone

Trial against former Vanderbilt players accused of rape postponed

Posted: Updated: Aug 01, 2014 07:09 PM
Brandon Vandenburg is one of the men accused in the case. Brandon Vandenburg is one of the men accused in the case.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After an often testy and sometimes graphic hearing Friday, the start date for the trial of two of the four former Vanderbilt football players charged with raping an unconscious student last year was postponed until November 3.

The trial for Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey was set to begin on August 11, but Judge Monte Watkins granted the defense motion for the continuance, saying he "does not like" to continue trials but "I know you are not ready."

The 45 minute hearing was marked by several sharp exchanges between Vandenburg's defense attorney John Herbison and prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman.

At one point, Herbison said, "I learned 26 years ago when I first saw Tom Thurman, try a case that he did not care if witnesses tell the truth."

Thurman quickly shot back "that's ridiculous" at least twice and told the judge Herbison "needs to be held in contempt."

At the end of the hearing, it lead to a warning from the judge directed at Herbison that he could face contempt of court charges.

The continuance comes after both Vandenburg's and Batey's attorney asked that the start of the trial be delayed.

Herbison said prosecutors had not properly informed the defense of the evidence against their client or the direction of the prosecution.

Batey's attorney Worrick Robinson cited a recent filing by the prosecution as a key reason why he wanted the trial continued.

Robinson said there had been a "change in the landscape" in the expected testimony (or proffer) of defendant Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie, who is likely to testify against Banks and Vandenburg. 

"There were allegations in there that had not presented themselves in the past," Robinson told the court.

Thurman went down the line on each charge by the defense, saying the prosecution had acted within the rules of the court.

"We were ready to go to trial in 10 days," said Thurman afterwards. "And we'll be ready in November."

Vandenburg did not appear in court Friday, but was listening on the phone with his attorney.

He and former teammates Brandon Banks, Batey and McKenzie are each charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery for an alleged rape, which took place in Vandenburg’s on-campus dorm room in June of 2013.

All four have since pleaded not guilty and are out of jail on bond.

The trial of McKenzie and Banks has not been scheduled, but it will go after Vandenburg and Batey.

There are several other motions in the case that Judge Watkins said he would rule on next week. 


Click here for complete coverage of the Vanderbilt rape case.

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