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Athletes’ rape case is headed for trial

Judge won’t dismiss indictments of athletes

SHARE Athletes’ rape case is headed for trial

PROVO — A judge has refused to dismiss grand jury indictments of four former Brigham Young University football players accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl at a Provo apartment.

Next step: A trial.

Defense attorneys for Ibrahim Rashada and B.J. Mathis — two of the four former players charged with rape — asked 4th District Judge Samuel McVey to dismiss the indictments on the grounds that the grand jury proceedings violated state law.

The proceedings are under seal — meaning they are not public by court order — so defense attorney Jere Reneer could not comment on why he thinks they were conducted improperly.

All other attorneys in the case, both on the prosecution and defense, are operating under a court-imposed gag order and cannot speak to the press.

Reneer filed the motion hoping Judge Samuel McVey, who is assigned to the case, would throw out the December indictments and send the case to a preliminary hearing. At preliminary hearings, prosecutors must present enough evidence to convince the judge that a trial is warranted.

A preliminary hearing in this case also would have given defense attorneys a chance to review evidence and witnesses for the prosecution.

This is the second time a judge has refused to dismiss the indictments.

Fourth District Court Judge Guy Birmingham, who presided over the grand jury proceedings that defense attorneys contend were done improperly, was the first to decline to toss out the charges.

But Reneer contended that McVey should be the one ruling on his motions, not Birmingham, since it is McVey who will conduct the trial. That's why McVey considered and made another ruling on the matter.

Four former players — Rashada, Mathis, Karland Bennett and William Turner Jr. — are accused of raping the girl on Aug. 8.

The girl told police the players goaded her into drinking vodka and watching pornography at a Provo apartment. She passed out in a bedroom, according to police, where she said she was later raped by several men.

Rashada's defense team visited the apartment last week to take pictures and measurements of the room where the girl said the rape occurred.

The Aug. 24 trial is expected to last a week.

E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com