The jury in the Alfonzo Dennard trial in Lincoln, Neb., got the cornerback’s case on Tuesday, but a verdict had not been reached by 6 p.m. local time, meaning deliberations will resume Wednesday.
Dennard is facing three counts: a third-degree felony charge of assaulting a police officer, a misdemeanor assault charge, and a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge from an incident last April 21.
Just days before the start of the 2012 NFL draft, the Nebraska standout reportedly was celebrating with friends and family that night. It was when the bars were letting out that Dennard allegedly assaulted another college student, Ben Samani, and then punched officer Ben Kopsa as Kopsa was trying to arrest him.
According to the Lincoln Journal-Sentinel, Kopsa testified that he saw Dennard punch Samani in the face, but when Samani was on the stand, he said Dennard had only punched him lightly in the chest.
When he took the stand in his own defense Friday, Dennard admitted to resisting arrest by swatting Kopsa’s hands away when Kopsa tried to handcuff him.
But in closing arguments Tuesday, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Matt Acton as well as defense attorney Terry Dougherty pointed to a 17-second video shot by an onlooker.
Acton told jurors it is clear in the video that Kopsa was lifted off the ground and sent back several feet thanks to a punch to the jaw by Dennard. According to Acton, it was the “200 pounds worth of force being applied to his face” that sent Kopsa reeling.
However, Kopsa requested no medical attention, and there was only a small cut behind his ear. A state forensic scientist testified that the blood behind Kopsa’s ear was his own, and blood on Dennard’s hand was his own.
Dougherty countered that if jurors watch the video, they’ll see that Dennard did not throw a punch, and that the officer may have been jumping out of the way.
An attorney not involved in the case told the Globe that it was a tactical move for Dennard’s lawyer to have him admit to resisting arrest, as it gave Dennard accountability and may increase the odds of him being acquitted on the felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
However, if Dennard is found guilty on the resisting arrest charge, he could still face punishment. That charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and $1,000 fine.
NU’s Vega signs
The Patriots signed former Northeastern defensive lineman Jason Vega to a three-year contract.
Vega, who was a standout player at Brockton High, has spent the last two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 255-pound Vega has run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and had 12 sacks in two years with Winnipeg. He occasionally lined up as a tight end in goal-line situations.
Though the sides reached an agreement last month, the deal could not be finalized until after Vega’s Winnipeg deal expired Friday.
Agent David Weinshel said the Patriots were among six teams that wanted to work out Vega, and that playing near home was attractive to Vega.
“For him I think it was more the fit,” said Weinshel. “I always tell players, ‘Go where you think you have the best chance of making the roster.’ Playing at home was definitely a consideration.”
Weinshel also noted that the Patriots have a history of giving players the opportunity to play if they’ve earned it, no matter how they came to the team.
Vega, 25, who is in Miami training, is the second CFL defensive lineman the Patriots have signed this offseason; last month, they acquired Armond Armstead. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.