Attorneys for ex-Vandy player say prosecution left out evidence - WSMV News 4

Attorneys for ex-Vanderbilt player say prosecution left out evidence

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Brandon Vandenburg Brandon Vandenburg

More explosive allegations are emerging from attorneys for one of the former Vanderbilt football players accused of raping another student. The lawyers say key pieces of evidence are missing or destroyed, but other legal experts say the claims are a longshot.

Brandon Vandenburg's attorneys filed a 24-page motion Tuesday requesting the entire rape case be dismissed, saying the prosecution and district attorney's office either destroyed or failed to preserve important evidence.

Another attorney, who is not involved in the case, believes that while lengthy, the motion may not be detailed enough to make a difference in court.

"The motion doesn't necessarily tell us why they believe this evidence is exculpatory or why they believe it is material to the defense," said Nashville attorney Jim Todd.

In some pre-trial discovery hearings, the prosecution is required to hand over evidence to the defense that may help prove the defendant is innocent.

Vandenburg's defense claims when prosecutors turned over evidence to them countless items were missing.

"The general supposition that we're entitled to any and everything ever involving this case is incorrect. It has to be material," Todd said.

The defense team claims thousands of the victim's calls and text messages, as well as surveillance footage from campus dormitory cameras, were destroyed or weren't saved.

"Before you can make an allegation saying the state destroyed relevant, material or exculpatory evidence, you've got to say why you think it's relevant material or exculpatory - not just a blanket statement of 'you destroyed these videos' or 'you destroyed these text messages,'" Todd said.

The filing also brings up former Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin.

It claims Franklin contacted the alleged rape victim, inviting her to a private meeting and telling her he wanted her to get 15 pretty girls together to help with recruiting players - even though he knew it was against the rules.

Franklin allegedly added that "all the other colleges did it," according to the defense motion.

The motion also indicates that days after the alleged rape Franklin and another coach contacted the victim during her medical examination and said they cared about her because she helped with recruiting.

"Maybe coach Franklin did contact this woman with recruiting and maybe after this happened he thanked her. How is that relevant to the trial that Vandenburg assisted other people in raping his girlfriend? It's not. How is it exculpatory? How does it go to show less guilt?" Todd said.

If anything, Todd says, this motion will almost certainly delay the trial. If it is dismissed, it will more than likely go through an appeal process that will take even longer.

Franklin, who is now head coach at Penn State, released a statement, saying:

"The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true."

He said he couldn't comment further out of respect for the legal process.

And in response to the defense team's filing, the Davidson County district attorney's office said:

"This is an obvious tactical ploy by Mr. Vandenburg's attorneys to intimidate the victim and malign veteran prosecutors and experienced police detectives by circulating unfounded allegations that not only can taint a potential jury pool but also prevent the State of Tennessee and the victim from obtaining a fair trial.

"The fact is, our office has given defense counsel for all four defendants complete access to the investigative file as the materials have become available. I should emphasize that the discovery information we have provided far exceeds what is legally required by our rules of criminal procedure. In spite of the tactics these defense attorneys have chosen to employ, we remain committed to providing full and open discovery to all attorneys in this case.

"Our office has repeatedly stated that we will not try this case in the media; however, given this latest motion, we can't let these baseless allegations go without a response. I want to make it clear that the claims alleged by Mr. Vandenburg's defense team will be addressed fully in court."

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