Defendant In 4th Vanderbilt Rape Case Could Opt For Trial Over Plea Deal

Posted: 4:32 PM, Jun 26, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-26 19:30:38-04

After three trials in the Vanderbilt rape case, some might think the last and final defendant would take a plea deal. However, experts said that may not be the case and Tip McKenzie may opt for a criminal trial.

Brandon Banks was third defendant to go to trial. A jury convicted him last week, but McKenzie may see a different outcome.

"I think he has the best shot of anybody of getting a favorable defense verdict like a lesser included offense or potentially a not guilty verdict," said Newschannel5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.

McKenzie watched as first Brandon Vandenburg, Cory Batey and then Brandon Banks were all convicted of raping an unconscious woman in a Vanderbilt dorm four years ago.

It's his turn, and after testifying for the prosecution most expect McKenzie to get a plea deal far better than the 10-year sentence offered and declined by Banks.

"I would think any offer for Mr. McKenzie would involve prison time," said Leonardo.

The jury convicted Banks on only two of the seven charges -- those linked to cell phone video showing him assaulting the victim.

McKenzie is not seen in any photos or video and was not considered the ringleader like Vandenburg.

"I think that helps him immensely. He could say I was just with them. I happened to be there. I didn't know what they are up to," said Leonardo.

Yes, he was there. He even took some photos, but prosecutors concede.

"Being present and not participating, morally maybe a person should say something, but it's not a crime to be present," Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said last week. 

When it comes down to it, McKenzie may decide his best chance for a good outcome is with a jury. However, rejecting a plea offer if one is made does not come without risk. 

Banks said no, and instead of serving ten years he's likely going to serve 15.