- The jury deliberated for two hours before being sent home. They will continue deliberating on Friday morning.
- Defense presents powerpoint detailing 37 inconsistent remarks made by the alleged victim.
- State prosecutors acknowledge case is of he said, she said variety, and is not driven by hard evidence.
After two hours of deliberation on Thursday, the jury in Kendall Sanders’ sexual assault trial was sent home.
Judge David Wahlberg ordered the eight men and four women to return Friday morning to continue discussing information presented in the three-day trial of Sanders, a former University of Texas wide receiver facing a second-degree charge of sexual assault.
Sanders, who would have been a senior on this year’s team, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the crime.
Closing arguments produced the first real dust-up between the two sides as Sanders’ attorney, Brian Roark, accused prosecutors of “hiding evidence” because they declined to admit call logs and text messages into evidence and objected to him doing so. However, an information technology employee at UT testified in the morning that his review of texts exchanged between Sanders and fellow former UT football player Montrel Meander revealed no signs of collusion to commit a crime or evidence of a cover-up.
“You should be ashamed about (the prosecution’s) conduct in this trial,” Roark told the jury.
In her retort, district prosecutor Andrea Austin chalked up Roark’s impugning of her character to nothing more than a tactic to divert attention from Sanders’ alleged wrongdoing.
“(Sanders) is the one on trial,” she said.
Austin and assistant prosecutor Aurora Perez ceded during closing arguments that the case is of the “he said, she said” variety and that the woman, a student at UT, had given testimony in court that was inconsistent with statements she gave investigators immediately after the June 2014 incident.
Roark prepared a presentation for the jury detailing 37 inconsistencies given by the woman, including her level of intoxication, whether Sanders complied with her request to cease having sex with her, and a comment she made to prosecutors that she had given Sanders “the benefit of the doubt” about enjoying the intercourse.
“The question for you,” Austin told the jury, “is whether those inconsistencies are enough” to acquit Sanders.
On Wednesday, the state struck out trying to produce DNA linking Sanders or Meander to the woman. However, the DNA of two unidentified males was found on a condom in Meander’s San Jacinto dorm room, where the incident allegedly occurred.
Meander, who is due to stand trial on the same sexual assault charge as Sanders, was in the courtroom Thursday to listen to closing statements. He did not testify; nor did Sanders or Longhorns linebacker Peter Jinkens, who was on the witness list because he had been in contact with the woman on the night of the incident.
Roark, who opened the day presenting his case, called just two witnesses, including a psychologist who cited a study stating 65 percent of reported sexual assaults on college campuses are either false (5.9 percent) or inconclusive (59 percent). Roark theorized that the alleged victim concocted the story out of fear that a photo would surface that Sanders took during the encounter.
“Without a flash (from the camera) there would not have been a rape in this case,” Roark said.
Both sides agree on at least one issue: University police conducted a shoddy investigation. Austin said investigators should’ve collected a rug in Meander’s room that possibly contained the semen of Sanders or Meander. Roark feels police did not challenge inconsistent statements provided by witnesses.
“I’ll tell you straight up, UT did not do a good investigation,” Austin said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s not guilty.”