Jury considering ex-Vanderbilt football player's rape case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A jury will continue deliberations Friday morning in the trial of a third former Vanderbilt University football player charged in the 2013 rape of an unconscious female student.

Jurors spent more than five hours trying to reach a verdict in Brandon Banks' case Thursday.

Prosecutors have leaned on graphic photos and videos of the assault, some shot by Banks and others by his teammates.

Banks has contended that if he didn't join in, he would face a beating - if not right away, then at practice or some other time.

Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said Banks made a choice to participate.

''Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,'' Moore said in closing arguments, referring to Banks' bullying allegations. ''But it doesn't give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that's the case, then we'd have the `football team defense.'''

In his testimony, Banks said teammates had long bullied him because he was smaller, and called him gay because he had a girlfriend and didn't rack up a ''body count'' of women he slept with at college.

Defense lawyer Mark Scruggs contended that Banks was ''clearly under duress.''

''He is the classic example of someone who has been abused by a group, whether it be a football team, a fraternity, or any other group nowadays, that requires complete loyalty, complete obedience,'' Scruggs said in closing arguments.

Banks was charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. An aggravated rape conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of 15 years.

Teammate Brandon Vandenburg was sentenced to 17 years in prison in June 2016 for his role in the rape. Cory Batey, another teammate, received a 15-year sentence in April 2016. Jaborian ''Tip'' McKenzie, the fourth former player charged, has testified against his teammates in hopes of a favorable plea deal.

McKenzie confirmed a video showed Banks, his friend, assault the woman with a water bottle. On the stand, Banks later confirmed his use of the bottle, and said he touched the woman and took photos.

Due to multiple trials and a mistrial, earlier this week marked the fifth time the victim has testified in court about the rape, of which she has no recollection. She was in the courtroom Thursday awaiting a possible verdict.

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