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Trash talk reportedly led to assault by Virginia State athlete

Some reported trash talk between college football players last year has led to one of the young men pleading guilty to assault. The incident occurred last November between a Virginia State University running back and a quarterback for Winston-Salem State University while the two were in the restroom during an awards luncheon at WSSU.

A police officer said the VSU player admitted striking the other player because of the way he was looking at him. Although the victim told the media that five or six players from the VSU team taunted him and then attacked him, the only one he could identify was the player who was charged. However, an investigation by an attorney hired by VSU found that, contrary to prosecutors' statements that the victim did nothing to provoke the assault, the victim's own trash talking led to the attack that left him with a black eye. That investigation also concluded that the defendant was the only one who participated in the assault.

The 23-year-old defendant was originally charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. However prosecutors determined that "statutory elements" for that charge had not been met. They allowed him to plead guilty to simple assault. He was sentenced to 45 days behind bars, followed by a year's probation. The jail sentence is being suspended for a year. Part of the condition of the sentencing is that he continues his education. According to his attorney, he wants to become a teacher.

The defendant's punishment for the incident goes beyond the criminal justice system. VSU immediately suspended him from the team. The university is also requiring him to participate in anger-management sessions and community service. The judge also alluded to the fact that he has been suspended from the university.

The defendant apologized to the victim in court "for the misunderstanding." The victim listened, but said nothing. The defendant's lawyer says that he is "a good man not likely to get in trouble again."

A few moments of anger and/or bad judgment can potentially impact the rest of a person's life. While some judges are understanding of that fact and work to make sentencing constructive as well as punitive, that is not always the case. It's essential that anyone facing assault charges take them seriously and rely on an experienced legal professional to help bring about the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, "Virginia State player pleads guilty to assaulting WSSU player" Michael Hewlett, Apr. 15, 2014

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