by NICK BERES
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A scathing new legal attack raises the stakes in the already contentious Vanderbilt rape case. A strongly worded new filing from the defense goes after lead prosecutor Tom Thurman and accuses him of overstepping his bounds and interfering with the right to a fair trial.
Prosecutors have challenged the right of Brandon Vandenburg to have Californian Albert Perez on his legal team. They claim Perez tampered with evidence in the case. Perez calls that a lie.
"To divert the defense of Mr. Vandenburg they've focused on me and it's absolutely made up," said Perez.
Thurman also objected to Perez calling him a liar citing court rules that such comments could prejudice a jury.
"The only thing we are trying to do is to protect the case so we don't have to have a trial twice," said Thurman.
While the judge is still considering the Perez issue, Vandenburg's legal team fired back at the lead prosecutor. It shows how contentious the legal wrangling has become.
A recent defense filing argues that Thurman's challenge to Perez "has taken on Shakespearean dimensions. As in Much Ado About Nothing."
As for Perez's comments that Thurman is a liar?
The filing states, "that comment is harsh and provocative, but any injury to Mr. Thurman's delicate sensibilities should be far too insubstantial to overcome the accused's choice of retained council."
Thurman has made it clear he will not respond to such rhetoric in the media.
"I think as the proverb says a wise man keeps his tongue in mouth and doesn't get in trouble," said Thurman.
Whether Perez's comments will get him in trouble with the judge in this case remains to seen. For now he is part of Vandenburg's legal team.
And his lawyers seem almost amused by Thurman's objections implying that he's too sensitive in their recent filing: "It calls to mind former president Harry Truman's famed Maxim, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
The judge is expected to leave the legal teams as they are and then planning will begin in earnest for the criminal trial set for this August.
Vandenburg and three other former Vanderbilt football players are accused of raping a co-ed in a campus dorm last year.