- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A former Vanderbilt football player accused of being involved in a gang rape on campus testified Friday that he wanted a California defense attorney to be part of his defense team in the case in Nashville.

Brandon Vandenburg is charged with five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of sexual battery, tampering with evidence and unlawful photography. He and three other former football players are accused of raping an unconscious student on campus. All four have pleaded not guilty.

Vandenburg testified that he wanted attorney Albert Perez Jr. to be one of his lawyers over the objection of prosecutors. The 20-year-old former player is from California.

Prosecutors earlier filed a motion saying two witnesses made statements saying Perez was directly involved with the destruction or attempted destruction of evidence in the case. Perez has denied the allegations. Two California men who were friends of Vandenburg have been accused of tampering with evidence. John Herbison, one of Vandenburg’s attorneys, said that the two Californians have accused Perez of telling them to destroy video evidence sent to them electronically. Herbison said the defense adamantly denies the allegations of the two men.

In court Friday, prosecutor Tom Thurman told a judge that he would agree to let retired California Judge Eugene Osko be on the defense team but could not in “in good faith” agree to Perez.

Defense attorneys have accused prosecutors of trying to control who gets to represent Vandenburg.

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins said he would decide later on whether Perez could be allowed in the case.

Earlier this week the defense filed a motion accusing prosecutors of overcharging the case and bringing “sham charges” against Vandenburg. They’ve asked a court to either dismiss the indictment against Vandenburg or force the Davidson County District Attorney’s office to step down from the case. Watkins said that motion would be heard at a later date.

Prosecutors issued a statement vigorously denying the defense’s allegations.

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