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Players submit blood samples

PROVO — The results of blood samples taken from four Brigham Young University football players accused of rape are not expected to come back from the state crime lab for at least a month.

The samples were taken Monday in coach Gary Crowton's office after the players were served with a search warrant signed by 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield. The blood will be sent to the Utah State Crime Lab for DNA testing, according to the warrant.

"It indicates to me that they have something they want to match the blood up with," said Provo defense attorney Sheldon Carter, who is not involved in the case. "They may be trying to add bullets to the gun or they may be questioning the victim's story. It's difficult to read. It may turn out that charges will never be filed."

A 17-year-old girl said she was raped Aug. 8 by several men in the Provo apartment of a BYU football player. She said the men pressured her to drink vodka, according to the police affidavit used to obtain the initial search warrant.

Police later seized a pornographic DVD, bed sheets, a wash cloth, fingerprints and a box of condoms from the apartment.

On Aug. 31, Provo police turned the case over to the Utah County Attorney's Office, which subsequently asked the police to continue the investigation.

No charges have been filed.

Utah County Deputy Attorney Donna Kelly would not comment specifically on the case but said generally blood samples are not taken until they are needed to match evidence.

"It's very routine to do it this way. There's nothing unusual going on here," Kelly said. "There's no reason to seize people's blood if there's nothing there."

Rhome Zabriskie, an attorney who was retained by one of the players after the search warrant was issued, said prosecutors had been waiting on testing of forensic evidence obtained by Provo police.

The pace at which the investigation has been conducted has frustrated the accused players and their families, who say the four freshmen have been wrongly accused and the case should be dismissed. A mother of one of the men wonders why blood samples weren't taken immediately from the players.

The Deseret Morning News does not usually identify those who have not been charged in court.

BYU law professor Marguerite Driessen said there is no set timetable with criminal investigations and there is nothing unusual about drawing blood samples two months into the investigation.

"You would think it would have happened before now, but you don't have to worry when it's blood; it's not going anywhere," she said. "When you talk about evidence that can disappear, time is of the essence."

Kelly said her office and Provo police officers are being "especially cautious in this case because the crimes are very serious," Kelly said.

Still, she said, "there's nothing about the identities of the suspects that makes us treat this case differently."

"If you were accused of a crime, wouldn't you want the police and prosecutors to be thorough? I think people deserve that kind of investigation."