Trial begins in alleged assault on UNC football players
The trial the alleged armed robbery of three University of North Carolina football players last year began Wednesday. Police say one of the players was sexually assaulted during the incident.Posted — Updated
Michael Troy Lewis, 33, of Durham, is charged with 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.
One of the players met Lewis and two women at a Chapel Hill bar on Dec. 16, 2007, and invited them back to his apartment, according to police. Investigators said the players were tied up inside the apartment and robbed at knife-point, and one of the women fondled one of the players during the incident.
"This man puts a knife to (a player's) neck and tells him, basically, 'If you don't want your mother going to your funeral, you'd better relax,'" Orange County Assistant District Attorney Morgan Whitney said in his opening statement.
A judge threw out several charges in the case in January, saying there was no probable cause to support claims that a second player, junior offensive lineman Aaron Stahl, had been sexually assaulted.
Another junior offensive lineman, Lowell Dyer, testified in January that he wasn't sexually assaulted during the incident.
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.
Lewis' defense attorney, Russell Hollers, told jurors in his opening statement that one of the players was trying to pay the women for sex and that any sexual contact that night was consensual.
"When Mr. Stahl wanted to get freaky and get tied up, that's when Mr. Lewis said, 'No, that's not my thing,' and he left the room," Hollers said.
None of the football players was in the courtroom Wednesday, although Whitney said they would likely testify later in the trial.