Wednesday, January 28, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Romney's Mississippi State visit at full capacity
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, will speak at Mississippi State University on Wednesday and all tickets to the events have been claimed. The tickets were available on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to Allison Matthews with the MSU public affairs office. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, is expected to give his perspective on global issues and key challenges facing America and the world today. Earlier this month, a news report on Yahoo News quoted an unnamed Republican who said if Romney is going to announce his candidacy for president this year, "he needs to pull the trigger in the next couple of weeks." "One GOP operative pegged Romney's speech at Mississippi State University on Jan. 28 as a deadline of sorts," the report states.
 
Today in Politics: What We're Watching Wednesday
Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts heads to Mississippi State University, where he will give a speech and take questions in part of its Global Lecture Series. And on a related note, is Romney putting his "car elevator" house on the market? The Boston Globe says it looks that way.
 
Pilotless aircraft will play critical roles in precision agriculture
Comparing an unmanned aerial vehicle to a magnetic resonance imaging machine may seem odd, but that is how the director of the Mississippi State University Geosystems Research Institute sees it. "The plant is the patient, the agronomists are the doctors, and I am the guy who works on the MRI machine," said Robert Moorhead, GRI director and Billie J. Ball Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the MSU Bagley College of Engineering.
 
Melanson Joins Mississippi State as Plant Pathologist
Rebecca Melanson recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service as a plant pathologist. She will focus on disease management issues in fruits, vegetables and nuts. "We are so pleased to have Dr. Melanson joining our Extension team at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center," said Sherry Surrette, head of the center. "Our producers and landowners will greatly benefit from her diverse research background and expertise in plant disease management."
 
Banks faces first challenge since 2007 in Oktibbeha County chancery clerk race
Oktibbeha County Chancery Clerk Monica Banks will face her first election test since 2007 after Republican Michael Womack turned in his qualification forms for the position last week. Additionally, a third Democrat, Cheikh A. Taylor, entered the race for the county's third justice court judge seat. Thirty-one candidates have now qualified for a variety of Oktibbeha County seats up for election this year. Womack, who has worked as a paramedic for North Mississippi Medical Center and Baptist Memorial Hospital, will face Banks in the November general election as long as no other candidates qualify and force inter-party primaries. Banks, Oktibbeha County's first African-American chancery clerk, was elected in 1995.
 
Judge names receiver for KiOR plant, but tax payment unclear
A Lowndes County judge has appointed a receiver to watch over KiOR's Columbus biofuel refinery, as owners and creditors seek a buyer. Chancery Judge Kenneth Burns on Monday named Derek Henderson, a Jackson lawyer who serves as a trustee in bankruptcy cases, as the receiver for the plant. The move came at the request of KiOR financier Vinod Khosla, who says he needs protection after his company Pasadena Investments advanced $572,904 to KiOR's Mississippi subsidiary to continue property insurance. Henderson is supposed to inventory the property and work to sell it, with his appointment running until Aug. 1.
 
Philadelphia to hire its own economic developer
Philadelphia plans to hire its own economic development director for special projects to work with the building inspector to clean up sites in town while promoting the proposed Marty Stuart Center. The city has allocated $50,000 for the position for which they said they've yet to outline qualifications but will. The director would, however, initially focus on promoting the Marty Stuart Center that's set to open sometime in the future, officials said in unanimously approving the hire. County supervisors have allocated $1 million in state bond monies to renovate a building downtown that will serve as a warehouse for the Stuart collection and then they plan to seek a permanent location, officials have said. The state has already earmarked an additional $500,000 for the Stuart center.
 
Nearly 100 at work as Grammer cranks up in Shannon
A year after breaking ground for its newest North American plant, German automotive supplier Grammer AG has amped up production. More than 90 workers are building commercial-vehicle suspension seats at the 120,000-square-foot facility in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South. Grammer AG, based in Amberg, Germany, is a major supplier of automotive interior components and systems, as well as driver and passenger seating for commercial vehicles. The company also said Tuesday the Shannon plant would begin building center consoles for North American customers next year.
 
Indictment says former senator Tommy Robertson took $379,592 meant for construction loan
A five-count indictment against Tommy Robertson of Moss Point indicates the bulk of the money he is accused of embezzling came from money intended to fund a couple's construction loan. State Auditor Stacey Pickering and Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence jointly announced the indictment against Robertson Monday. Robertson turned himself in to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and posted $50,000 bond. The Mississippi Press obtained a copy of the indictment Tuesday morning. Robertson, 59, served in the Mississippi Senate from 1992-2008. He had previously gained a measure of notoriety for three separate DUI arrests -- in Biloxi in 1997, on the Ole Miss campus in 2003 and in Moss Point in 2008.
 
Fitch gets serious opponent; Bomgar rolling in campaign cash
Incumbent Republican State Treasurer Lynn Fitch has drawn a serious opponent, with lawyer David McRae of Ridgeland announcing a run for the post. McRae is grandson of the founder of the McRae's department store chain. McRae's hiring of Justin Brasell, who ran Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' campaign, has many political observers wondering if Reeves has helped draft a challenger against Fitch. Meanwhile, businessman Joel Bomgar, in his first foray into politics, has raised an eye popping amount of campaign money for the Madison County-Ridgeland House post being vacated by longtime Rep. Rita Martinson, who is not seeking re-election.
 
McRae challenging Mississippi treasurer in GOP primary
First-time candidate David McRae said Tuesday that he's challenging Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch in this year's Republican primary. The 34-year-old attorney from Ridgeland said he wants to root out wasteful spending in state government -- something that falls more squarely under the job description of the state auditor than the state treasurer. Fitch, 53, is an attorney from Madison. Before being elected treasurer in 2011, she was state Personnel Board director and had worked for the attorney general's office and the state House of Representatives. In a separate interview Tuesday at the Capitol, Fitch said she's proud of her record as treasurer, including management of bond debt and state-sponsored college savings plans and promotion of financial literacy programs for young people.
 
Education could get additional $65 million
The House Appropriations Committee passed legislation Tuesday to use nearly $112 million the state set aside for use in the 2016 budget year, which begins July 1. House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson recommended that $65 million of the $112 million go to K-12 education. Another $10 million would go make up a shortfall in the amount needed for second year teacher pay raises. "It will disappear quickly," Frierson said of the available money. The state no longer had to keep the two percent set aside because its "rainy day" fund is fully funded. The state has about $400 million in a "rainy day" fund.
 
Special education voucher bill advances in state Senate
Lawmakers are pursuing multiple options to help special education students, as a reprise of last year's fight over vouchers for special education students looms. On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 2695, which gives $7,000 in state money to the parent of any Mississippi special education student who wanted to withdraw their child from their local public school district. That measure moves to the full Senate, while a similar bill awaits committee action in the House. Both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant are supporting the voucher bill this year, but some House Democrats are offering other options.
 
More special-needs options emerge
On a day that a returning special-needs scholarship bill cleared its first legislative hurdle, Rep. Nick Bain, D-Corinth, introduced another proposal to provide help with the education of special-needs children. Bain said Tuesday his proposal would provide transparency in terms of funding for special education students in the local school districts, would create a statewide autism coordinator and would develop a fund to provide help with therapies, services and equipment for special education students. The legislation has the backing of the grassroots Parents Campaign, the Mississippi School Boards Association and other groups.
 
'Dangerous dog bill' would restrict pit bulls
Proposed "dangerous dog" legislation would place great restrictions on pit bull and similar dog breeds and provide large fines and jail time for owners who don't keep them under control. But the measure is facing opposition from dog owner rights advocates and those who oppose "breed specific" regulations. Also, critics say, it would unconstitutionally allow police to enter private property to check for dangerous dogs. Rep. Larry Byrd, R-Petal, the bill's lead author, says recent maulings and deaths prompted him to file the legislation. He said his research shows there have been seven deaths in Mississippi "all by pit bulls or some mix." Byrd said he's been bombarded with messages from advocates opposed to the measure.
 
Bill to protect hunters from drone video
A bill prohibiting the use of drones for surveillance of lawful hunters and fishermen is among 13 introduced by Neshoba County's legislative delegation this session. Rep. C. Scott Bounds, R-Philadelphia, is the principal author of seven bills and co-author of several others. Sen. Giles Ward, R-Louisville, who represents Neshoba County, authored six bills as well as co-authoring several others. One bill Bounds is sponsoring would provide hospice patients with the ability to still receive community-based service after they are placed on hospice. "That's just something I feel passionate about," he said. Bounds said the Legislature continues to look at ways to prevent hospices from going bankrupt and opening under another name. His drone bill would prohibit the use of the devices to conduct video surveillance of or to interfere with a person engaged in lawful hunting or fishing.
 
Pender listed among nation's top political reporters with Salter, Wagster-Pettus
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender was named Tuesday as one of the top local political reporters in Mississippi and the nation by The Fix, a political blog for The Washington Post. Pender is joined by Sid Salter and Emily Wagster-Pettus as the top political reporters in the state. Chris Cillizza, author of the post, said he does this list every two years or so "to honor these reporters."
 
Cochran's Top Appropriations Goal: Regular Order
Kicking off his second tour as Senate Appropriations chairman, Thad Cochran says one of his top priorities is to ensure spending bills are open to amendments on the floor. Ever the institutionalist, the seven-term Mississippi Republican puts a premium on so-called regular order: moving each of the 12 annual spending bills through committee and on the floor, with unlimited debate and input from all senators before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. But restoring more orderly consideration of appropriations bills will be a tall order after years of Senate dysfunction, particularly given tight fiscal 2016 spending caps.
 
Obama says White House drone points to 'broader problem'
President Barack Obama says the drone that dropped into the White House grounds on Monday points to a "broader problem" -- balancing security and privacy with recreation and that he's asked federal agencies to look into the issue. In a CNN interview conducted before he left India, Obama said he'd leave details of the incident to the Secret Service. But he said he's asked the Federal Aviation Administration and a number of other federal agencies to examine how the U.S. is handling the small unmanned helicopters that are popular with photographers and aviation buffs and are being considered for package delivery by companies such as Amazon.
 
The Drone Defender: Meet the lawyer fighting for freer skies, one lawsuit at a time
By the end of this month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release a set of proposed regulations it believes should govern the commercial flights of civilian drone pilots in the United States---the agency's first attempt at regulating any kind of radio-controlled unmanned aircraft used for purposes other than university research, law enforcement, firefighting and other "government operational missions." That means farmers using lightweight drones flown to inspect crops, realtors photographing houses, videographers shooting aerial footage and the like would all answer to federal regulators. If the FAA is Goliath in this fight, Brendan Schulman is David. For the past two years, the 40-year-old attorney has been slinging rocks, in the form of lawsuits, at the agency on behalf of drone operators around the country---including in the first federal commercial drone case in the United States.
 
Drone Maker to Prevent Some Device Flights Over D.C.
In response to the drone crash at the White House this week, the Chinese maker of the device that crashed said it is updating its drones to disable them from flying over much of Washington, D.C. SZ DJI Technology Co. of Shenzhen, China, plans to send a firmware update in the next week that, if downloaded, would prevent DJI drones from taking off within the restricted flight zone that covers much of the U.S. capital, company spokesman Michael Perry said. Mr. Perry said DJI also would update its firmware to disable drone flights across national borders.
 
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says he will continue to recognize ban on same-sex marriage
labama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has released a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intends to continue to recognize the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and urging the governor to do so. Moore's office released the three-page letter that was delivered to the governor Tuesday morning in response to a federal judge's ruling Friday striking down the ban. David Kennedy, an attorney for Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, the couple who successfully challenged the same-sex ban, said he strongly disagreed with what Moore wrote. Kennedy said the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution provides that when a federal court with the proper jurisdiction rules that a state law is unconstitutional that state officials are bound to abide by the ruling.
 
Mormons Seek Golden Mean Between Gay Rights and Religious Beliefs
Mormon leaders tried to stake out a middle ground in the escalating battle between gay rights and religious freedom on Tuesday, demanding that both ideas, together, be treated as a national priority. At a rare news conference at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints forcefully condemned discrimination against gays and vowed to support nondiscrimination laws -- like one proposed in Utah -- to protect people from being denied jobs or housing because of their sexual orientation. But they also called for these same laws, or others, to protect the rights of people who say their beliefs compel them to oppose homosexuality or to refuse service to gay couples.
 
Paul Finebaum will speak at Ole Miss graduation ceremony
Who better to encourage the future lawyers of Mississippi than the man who has made a living letting Alabama and Auburn fans rant on the radio? Paul Finebaum, the host of a popular radio show that is now carried across the South and also a SEC Network analyst, will speak at Ole Miss Law School's graduation ceremony on May 9, the school revealed on this website. Finebaum graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in political science before embarking on a career in sports journalism. He eventually developed the radio show.
 
USM Center for Writers to host Visiting Writers Series
Three acclaimed writers will be the featured guests this spring as part of the Visiting Writers Series at the University of Southern Mississippi. Hosted by the Center for Writers in the Department of English, the dates for the series are set for Wednesday, March 4 and April 22. Writer Catherine Pierce is the final guest in the series and will read from a work of poetry on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Pierce is an associate professor at Mississippi State University where she co-directs the creative writing program. She is also the author of The Girls of Peculiar, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, and Famous Last Words, winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Pierce's poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, Boston Review and elsewhere.
 
Meridian Community College Foundation kicks off annual fundraiser
The Meridian Community College Foundation on Tuesday kicked off its 2015 fundraiser with a luncheon in the Dulaney Room at Webb Hall. "President Obama said he wants to establish tuition guarantee for community colleges," said Kathy Brookshire, associate vice president for development and executive director of the MCC Foundation. "We established our program in 1996, the first in the State of Mississippi and probably the first in the nation." The program offers every graduate of a Meridian or Lauderdale County high school the chance to go to MCC without paying tuition.
 
11 finalists up for Liberal Arts dean at U. of Florida
The University of Florida is on track to select a new dean for the College of Liberal Arts by Friday. Eleven finalists were announced this week and will be interviewed on campus Thursday and Friday by the nine-member selection committee chaired by Elaine Turner, dean of the UF/IFAS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Paul D'Anieri, the previous dean of the College of Liberal Arts, left June 19 to take a job as provost and vice chancellor of the University of California-Riverside. He had been dean of the liberal arts college since 2008 -- overseeing a time of budget cuts and faculty reduction.
 
U. of Florida may end midwife program
The University of Florida College of Nursing has halted admissions to three doctoral programs and is mulling whether to continue or eliminate them in the long term. Late last year, the College of Nursing announced that it will not accept applications for Fall 2015 in nurse midwifery, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner and neonatal nurse practitioner. UF is the only Florida school to offer a nurse midwifery education program and one of only a handful in the Southeast, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
 
UF researcher gets grant to study probiotics' effects
The probiotics label has appeared on a seemingly endless array of food products in our grocery stores, and Amanda Ford wants to know exactly what effect probiotics have on our digestive system. The Dannon Company has given Ford, a University of Florida research assistant in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences' Food Science and Human Nutrition department, a $25,000 grant to help figure that out. "I'm very excited," Ford said. "Given the caliber of students in research, you are always hopeful, and there were some very competitive students out there."
 
UGA-GRU medical partnership dean leaving Athens campus in May
Barbara Schuster, the first and only dean of the Georgia Regents University-University of Georgia Medical Partnership, will be stepping down in May, as the second class graduates from the medical campus in Athens. No reason was given for Schuster's resignation in emails sent by UGA and GRU administrators to faculty and staff at the partnership campus in Athens, which enrolled its first 40 students in 2010. That first class graduated from the partnership campus graduated last April.
 
Texas state senator backs bill allowing guns on college campuses
State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, announced Monday that he will co-author a bill that would allow students, faculty and staff with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms on public Texas university campuses, one month after Texas A&M student senators passed a recommendation to allow the practice for self-defense purposes. In its rules and regulations, the Texas A&M University System prohibits firearms on its campuses and university-sponsored events unless a person, including one with a concealed carry permit, has written authorization from the university to do so. In a show of support for the carrying of concealed firearms on campus, the Texas A&M Student Senate in early December passed the Personal Protection Act with 39 votes in favor, 12 against and six abstaining. The proposal was later signed by Student Body President Kyle Kelly.
 
Obama drops proposed tax increase on college savings plans
Under bipartisan pressure, the White House Tuesday quietly abandoned a proposal to raise taxes on a popular program used to save for college. President Barack Obama had proposed earlier this month to eliminate tax breaks adopted in 2001 for new contributions to 529 college savings plans. But he faced a backlash in the recent week from members of both political parties, as well as operators and users of the state-based plans. A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity as part of administration policy, said that Obama decided to drop the proposal after a personal plea from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., aboard Air Force One en route from India to Saudi Arabia.
 
'Huge Explosion of Wealth' Drives Record $37.5-Billion in Gifts to Colleges
Charitable giving to American colleges and universities has reached a historic high for the second straight year, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the Council for Aid to Education. Colleges raised $37.45-billion in 2014, the highest amount recorded since the survey started, in 1957. That is a 10.8-percent increase in giving since last year -- the largest gain since 2000. The annual survey, "Voluntary Support of Education," is considered the most comprehensive available measure of private giving to colleges. During the fiscal year, gains in the stock market proved to be good news for academe.
 
Study finds link between cuts in state budgets and out-of-state enrollment
It's well documented that state appropriations for public colleges and universities have flattened or fallen since the early 2000s, especially when viewed against significant increases in enrollments at the institutions over that time. It is similarly understood that enrollments of out-of-state students have burgeoned over that time period. But are the two trends related? A new study published in the journal Research in Higher Education asserts that they are. The research, by professors at the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri at Columbia, examines the relationship between funding for higher education in U.S. states and the levels of nonresident enrollment at public institutions between 2002-3 and 2012-13.
 
Bid to Hold Teacher Colleges Accountable Stirs a Debate Over Race
As Congress debates whether to scale back testing at the nation's elementary and secondary schools, a quieter fight is playing out behind the scenes over efforts to extend test-based accountability to the country's teacher colleges. At issue in both debates -- one over renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the other over a draft rule for teacher-preparation programs, introduced by the Education Department in late November -- is the question of whether holding teachers and schools accountable for student learning helps, or hinders, efforts to close racial gaps in student achievement.
 
Wisconsin looks to cut higher ed by $300M, tries to give something in return
Wisconsin universities now face the largest budget cuts in their history, even as colleges in other states crawl out of budget holes. Governor Scott Walker, a possible Republican candidate for president, announced Tuesday a $300 million cut to the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System. The cuts will come as a pair of $150 million cuts in each of the next two years. In exchange for taking away so much money, 13 percent of the higher ed budget, Walker said he wants to give state university officials more independence from state lawmakers. Under Walker's plan, universities would have say over more of their operations, not just tuition.
 
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): The blame game and more
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Sometimes my Reasonably Right notebook gets filled with items that don't require a full column but deserve a mention. This week, I'm cleaning out recent political items from the notebook. Campaign finance reports for all statewide, district wide and legislative officials are due at the end of this week covering all contributions and expenditures during 2014. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves shared his numbers in advance of filing and said his campaign will report $2.35 million cash-on-hand after raising $1.3 million last year. Reeves' war chest well positions him for his anticipated announcement to seek reelection. It's hard to keep a political secret, but Ridgeland resident David McRae and his team sprung a big announcement Tuesday."
 
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Gunn strengthens control over House Republicans
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "In the opening days of the 2015 legislative session, it appears Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, has solidified his power in the Mississippi House. During the first three years of his initial term as the House's presiding officer, Gunn struggled on certain controversial issues to garner full Republican support. But on the first two such issues of 2015, that has not been a problem. On those two votes, potential opposition to Gunn's position could have arisen from either the ideological right or the small, relatively moderate voice in the House Republican caucus, but it did not happen."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs believe Ole Miss will see an improved team
It's rare to find an occasion when both Mississippi State and Ole Miss agree, especially regarding athletics. On Monday, the schools' basketball coaches did just that regarding the Bulldogs' level of play through January. "You can go back and you can look at the film and see that we actually are improving," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "I think that's an important step in our maturation as a basketball team." Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy agreed: "From reading coach Ray's comments, I would certainly be in full agreement: I think they are playing their best basketball of the season."
 
Ray chasing first victory in Oxford
Mississippi State's Rick Ray has won two of his five meetings against archrival Ole Miss. Neither of those wins came in Tad Smith Coliseum. Now in his third season, Ray and the Bulldogs will try and erase that trend tonight at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network. "We've got to make sure at some point in time that we go up there and have some success against them at their place," Ray said. "We've won here in the Hump so for us to take that next step, we've got to take that act on the road and have some success there."
 
Mississippi State will try to correct defensive lapses
As it turns out, the film told Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray what he already knew: J.J. Frazier didn't miss. Frazier, Georgia's sophomore point guard, was 7-for-7 from 3-point range Saturday in a 72-66 win against MSU at Humphrey Coliseum. It was a performance that sent Ray searching for what went wrong. "It was about our defensive assignments," Ray said. "Watching the film, he got shots out of their offense and he knocked them down. The bad thing about it was we kept missing assignments and giving him open shots. That's what we've got to work on." For MSU (9-10, 2-4 SEC), the lapses were an anomaly.
 
Rebels vow to not let Bulldogs celebrate another win
Super Bowl XLIX is still five days away. Martavious Newby sees no reason Mississippi State players should be able to celebrate it early on the Rebels' home court. Newby, a sophomore guard for Ole Miss, says he and his teammates remember what it meant to the Bulldogs to beat the Rebels in Starkville last year. Ole Miss would go on to win the next two meetings, one at Tad Smith Coliseum, where the rivals meet tonight at 8, and a third in the SEC tournament in Atlanta. Those last two games were good times for Ole Miss and tend to offset a 76-72 loss at MSU's Humphrey Coliseum. But not completely.
 
Former Bulldogs, led by Jacob Lindgren, on brink of MLB
No former Mississippi State pitcher has been on the move more than Kendall Graveman. After helping the Bulldogs to their first-ever appearance in the College World Series final, Graveman began his career in the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2013 in Single-A Lansing. In 2014, he moved through five levels of the organization, including appearing in five games for the Blue Jays. The moving didn't stop with an offseason trade to Oakland. The moves aren't likely finished for former players on that CWS team. Major League Baseball updated its top prospects of 2015 that included two names from the 2013 Mississippi State squad.
 
Two former Vanderbilt football players convicted of rape thanks to pictures one of them took during attack
The victim had no memory of the attack, but the photos and video were terrifying: students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. On Tuesday, two years after the attack, a jury in Nashville convicted two former Vanderbilt University football players of aggravated rape and related charges. They were among four players who allegedly participated in the assault. Two others, who have pleaded not guilty, will be tried later. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, both 21, now face 15 to 80 years in prison. They were convicted after a 12-day trial and about three hours of jury deliberation. The case was unusual because the victim had no memory of the assault and could not testify about it. But the images -- some taken by Vandenburg and sent to his friends during the attack -- ultimately helped convict him and Batey.
 
'Sigh of relief' at Vanderbilt after verdicts
Vanderbilt University sophomore Sarah Polett nearly cried Tuesday when she learned that two former Commodore football players had been found guilty of a 2013 rape of an unconscious woman on campus. Polett's professor had stopped class to discuss the convictions against Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey as they were handed down. "I'm upset, but I'm very happy that they were convicted on all counts, as they deserved to be," Polett said. While chatting with her friend Ariana Yeatts-Lonske Tuesday night at a campus dining hall, both women agreed the verdicts brought some measure of relief after a horrific 19-month saga. They said they were proud that Vanderbilt had worked with Metro Police to help secure the evidence that led to convictions.



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