Legal Ruling LIkely Opens Door To Plea Deal In Vanderbilt Rape Case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A request in the Vanderbilt rape case to exclude key photographic evidence has been denied, leaving defendant Brandon Banks with the decision to take a plea deal or go to trial.

When legal experts talk about the Vanderbilt rape cases one thing is not disputed: If the photographic or cell phone video evidence of the rape is allowed at trial, there is almost no doubt the defendant will be convicted.

Just ask Brandon Vandenburg or Corey Batey. They're serving 17 and 15 years respectively - convicted on several counts for the rape of an unconscious woman in a Vanderbilt University dormitory four years ago.

Brandon Banks faces the same charges and the same damaging evidence. 

"These are very serious crimes and one conviction on one count of aggravated rape is all it takes," said NewsChannel5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.

NewsChannel 5 learned of plea talks for a possible 10-year sentence, but negotiations stalled.

In addition, sources say Banks' attorney moved to have the devastating photos of the rape excluded from trial, claiming they were confiscated illegally.

"I think there may be some thought if they prevail on the motion then maybe the state's offer would get better," said Leonardo.

However, the motion failed. The photo evidence will be allowed, and that means a very likely conviction for Banks if his case actually goes to trial.

"It makes it more likely there would be serious plea negotiations," said Leonardo.

If convicted at a trial, Banks faces a minimum of 15 years in prison. 

If a plea deal is worked out, which seemed likely, that will mean no trial on June 19.

As usual, prosecutors and Bank's attorney will not talk about plea negotiations, but make no mistake there are discussions and we should know soon if an agreement is reached.

Whether Banks is convicted at trial or reaches a plea deal on prison time, he still will be put on the violent sex offender registry for life.

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