Local News

Man convicted of robbing UNC football players

Posted November 18, 2008 2:56 p.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2008 11:54 a.m. EST

— A jury on Tuesday found a Durham man guilty of tying up and robbing three University of North Carolina football players last year.

Michael Troy Lewis, 33, was convicted of three counts of attempted felony larceny, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and one count each of criminal conspiracy, robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault on a government official. He was acquitted of a second count of assault on a government official.

Lewis put his head in his hands and glanced at his parents as the verdicts were read.

Superior Court Judge Carl Fox sentenced Lewis to 371 months or just over 30 years in jail. Lewis was also ordered to pay $7,500 in attorney's fees.

Previously Lewis was convicted for bank robbery and served three-and-a-half years in a federal prison.

Offensive lineman Aaron Stahl testified Monday that he and his friends were out celebrating a teammate's birthday on Dec. 16, 2007, when he asked Lewis and two women for a ride home. He said he passed out later and awoke to find himself bound to a chair in his apartment and wearing only his underwear.

A second player said he also was tied up and was fondled by one of the women. Lewis threatened him by holding a knife to his throat, the player testified.

WRAL News doesn't identify victims who have reported being sexually assaulted.

Another offensive lineman, Lowell Dyer, said that before he also was tied up, he was able to call 911 to report that Lewis was robbing the apartment.

Chapel Hill police officers told jurors last week that Lewis attacked them and fled when they arrived. The players were tied up and were trying to get the women to leave, the officers said.

Defense attorney Russell Hollers said Lewis readily admits to trying to rob the apartment, but he denies that he conspired with the women to tie up the players.

“Police can't be sure what happened (because the) players don't know," Hollers told jurors in his closing argument, noting police were called 20 to 30 minutes after the players arrived home. "They have trouble keeping their story straight. They were drunk."

Hollers, who presented no witnesses in the week-long trial, has maintained that Stahl wanted to pay the women for kinky sex, which is why he and the other players were tied up. All sexual contact that night was consensual, he said.

"I apologize for the people that I've injured. I apologize for the officer. Nothing happened intentionally. I was found guilty of charges I did not commit," Lewis said following the verdict.

Assistant Orange County District Attorney Morgan Whitney called the case "a crime of opportunity," noting Lewis took advantage of drunken football players for an easy robbery.

"All of them, no question, were sloppy drunk. If they hadn’t been drunk, clearly this wouldn't have happened," Whitney said in his closing argument. "None of their behavior brought (the robbery) on. The defense is going to want you to say these gentleman got what they paid for."

Monique Jenice Taylor, 29, is charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense and resisting a public officer in the case. She will be tried separately.

Tnikia Monta Washington, 30, is charged with resisting a public officer in the case.