Judge To Rule On Mistrial Motion In Vanderbilt Rape Case

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:07:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The judge will consider a mistrial motion brought before the court by the attorneys of two former Vanderbilt football players convicted of raping a fellow student.

Defense attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg and Corey Batey have asked for a mistrial, saying the two didn't get a fair trial because a jury member failed to disclose the fact that he had been a victim of statutory rape.

Attorneys questioned the former jury foreman Todd Easter all day Monday. During jury selection Easter failed to disclose that when he was 16-years-old, he was in a consensual relationship with a 23-year-old man.

"I was in the same state of mind anyone who went through a tragic breakup. I was heartbroken," said Easter.

After Todd's parents found out about the relationship, the man was charged with statutory rape. Technically making Easter a victim.

"I was asked if I considered myself a victim and I said no," Easter testified.

None of this though was ever conveyed during jury selection. Defense attorneys argue in no way would they have allowed the 31-year-old to be a juror.

Prosecutors believe the motion should be thrown out arguing Todd Easter didn't influence any other jurors decisions. 

Judge Monte Watkins said he would rule on the motion by next Tuesday. 
Newschannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo said the defense team must prove Easter lied when asked questions during jury selection.
"These individuals are entitled to twelve neutral and impartial jurors. Not just eleven," said Leonardo.
If Judge Watkins declares a mistrial, Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, who the jury convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape and sexual assault, could be set free.

Leonardo said, "They would be entitled to bond, and they would get a bond issued and then they would proceed to trial again or the case would be resolved in some sort of plea bargain."
The judge would set the date for a new trial.
But, if Judge Watkins denies the motion for a mistrial there would be a sentencing hearing.
Vandenburg and Batey would go back to prison.
Their attorneys can begin the appeals process, which begins with asking Judge Watkins for a new trial.
If the judge says no, which usually happens, then the defendants can appeal Watkins' decision to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which can take several months.
Leonardo said, "It takes quite a bit of time from where they're sitting today and of course the pace of this litigation seems kind of slow. Before they get any kind of relief in the court of criminal appeals in a direct appeal we're probably taking 18 months from now."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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