Jefferson, Johns' attorneys say hearing blown out of proportion
POSTED: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 8:17pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 9:59pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — The grand jury, determining the fate of the two suspended LSU Tigers, came to a decision Wednesday evening. They decided to drop the second-degree battery charges against Tiger quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker, Josh Johns.
Johns is completely off the hook, but Jefferson is facing a lesser penalty. He still faces a simple battery charge, which is a misdemeanor.
Attorneys for the football players thought this whole situation was blown out of proportion.
"Jordan Jefferson shouldn't have been charged," says his attorney, Lewis Unglesby. "It shouldn't have been a grand jury. All of this shouldn't have happened, period."
Unglesby says he's shocked by the decision. "I think they're wrong. This whole thing started out wrong. The whole thing was a mistake from the beginning."
Johns' attorney, Tommy Damico, says the decision to drop the charges against his client did not surprise him at all. "We never doubted that he wasn't involved," he says. "It was a case of misidentification, so it's over with for Josh."
Both players are back on the team, according to attorneys. "Jordan Jefferson is practicing right now. He's very excited to be back on the team," says Unglesby.
Attorneys were frustrated by the length of time that it took to get this matter cleared up.
"I'm surprised that it went as long as it did," says Unglesby. "We sure could have done this three to four weeks ago. "
He and Damico blame police for jumping the gun on the arrests, and forcing this situation to take place. "I think part of the problem is the police acted too quickly," says Damico.
"When police make an accusation that is this fundamentally wrong, then its hard to pull it all the way back," adds Unglesby.
The District Attorney's office says this long process was the only way to be fair. "This office would have been grossly criticized as the police department has already been criticized by Mr. Damico as rushing to its own judgement," says Prem Burns, the first assistant to the district attorney.
Now, Jefferson and Johns get a second chance. Jefferson still faces the simple battery charge. If convicted, he could get up to six months in prison, and face $500 in fines.
Unglesby says, it won't happen.
"Jordan will never be convicted," he says. "There's no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to even think about it."
Burns says there's a number of factors that will be taken into consideration with Jefferson's simple battery trial. She says, a lack of a criminal record and educational status will weigh on any sort of conviction.