Teen Gang-Rape Suspects Face A Judge
Updated: Thursday, December 20 2012, 08:53 PM EST
A group of East Henderson High School students charged in the rape of a classmate made their first court appearance Thursday. Sheriff's detectives say the alleged attack might have been caught on cell phone video.
The 17 and 18-year-olds learned how much prison time looms if they're convicted of attacking a female classmate.
"It's an extremely serious offense. The minimum is around 260 months in jail," said legal expert David Payne.
Tyler Garren hired a private attorney and waived his first appearance. Vincent Curto and Matt Bishop told the judge they want a public defender. Unable to post bond, Justin Ponder appeared in cuffs and jailhouse stripes. Ponder turned down a public defender, opting to hire his own lawyer.
"No case is a slam dunk for the prosecution," said Payne. Attorney Payne represented Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph. He explained what the prosecution must prove to win guilty verdicts.
"Firstly, that there was a non-consensual contact, that there was intent, and that there was injury to the victim," Payne said.
Garren and Bishop have more than their rape case in common. Both are football stars at East Henderson. Both have dads associated with law enforcement. Garren's dad is a Henderson deputy, who's not suspected of wrongdoing in this case.
Bishop's dad is a former Hendersonville cop, who was the subject of a separate SBI rape investigation. Mr. Bishop was not charged in that case.
"It's a very sad situation all the way around," said Payne.
All four boys must report back to court January 11th.
By: Mario Boone, email@example.com
Follow Mario Boone on Twitter: @marioboone