- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Closing arguments begin in ex-Vandy players’ rape trial

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The rape trial of two former Vanderbilt football players began wrapping up Monday with a prosecutor telling jurors that video evidence and photographs taken of the crime would be enough to convict them on most of the charges.

Beyond the video footage and photographs, testimony from several athletes shows the players are guilty, Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman told jurors during closing arguments.

The proceedings capped off a day of dramatic testimony during which one of the former players took the stand and testified that he was so drunk he could not remember what happened.

Former players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey are standing trial on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Two other former players are facing the same charges. Vandenburg additionally faces a charge of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Throughout the trial, jurors have seen graphic images of the alleged sexual assault that police recovered from cellphones and a laptop. Prosecutors said players took pictures of the assault and one even sent videos to his friends as it was happening.

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13 in West Tennessee face cocaine, marijuana charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say 13 people have been charged with selling cocaine and marijuana in West Tennessee.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said Monday that 12 people have been arrested so far. Three were already in state or federal custody, and the rest were arrested in Dyer County.

One person named in the indictments has not been arrested.

During the arrests, law enforcement officials seized drugs, money, firearms and drug paraphernalia.

The indictments were returned by a federal grand jury in Jackson last Tuesday, but they remained under seal until Monday’s arrests.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Memphis Safe Streets Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI in Jackson, the Dyer County Sheriff’s Department and the police departments in Dyersburg, Jackson and Lexington.

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Colleges meet in Nashville in effort to fight sex assaults

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A two-day summit focused on fighting sexual assaults at college campuses is drawing about 400 officials from 76 schools across Tennessee.

Media report the meeting begins Tuesday at Tennessee State University and will feature national experts who will offer training on issues like defining consent, prevention and complying with changing federal laws.

“We believe students have every right to expect to be safe on our campus,” University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said last week in a conference call with reporters. “We want to do everything we can to be there and support our students when they need us most.”

The idea for the Tennessee Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Summit came about after revisions to federal standards and laws on how schools should respond to and report assaults.

It is being held in the midst of a high-profile rape trial against two former Vanderbilt football players.

The summit is scheduled to last through Wednesday.

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2 more states join Texas-led immigration lawsuit

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas says two more states have joined its coalition suing over the Obama administration’s executive action on immigration, meaning 26 states are now part of the case.

New Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Monday that Nevada and Tennessee have officially become part of the coalition.

More than half the states are now fighting the order in a federal court in Brownsville.

Announced in November, the president’s unilateral move is designed to spare millions of people living illegally in the United States from deportation. The lawsuit accuses the White House of “trampling” the Constitution.

A federal judge heard arguments Jan. 15 but didn’t immediately rule on an injunction the coalition is seeking. It would suspend Obama’s action until the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

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