A judge dismissed the most serious charge against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Monday, eliminating the possibility the former Arizona State star will get a mandatory prison sentence.
Suggs could still go to state prison or spend time in county jail if convicted of the remaining charges — a felony and a misdemeanor — but he would also be eligible for probation, according to court documents.
Suggs smiled and shook hands with co-defendant Robert Castro-Sanchez after Judge Michael Wilkinson of Maricopa County Superior Court threw out the charge for lack of evidence.
Both men stood accused of hitting Anthony Henrie with a metal bar during a March 29, 2003, brawl at a three-onthree basketball tournament in Phoenix.
Suggs began his defense by calling two eyewitnesses who described the instigator of the fight as a white man.
Jeryme Cook, who is white and named as a victim in the case, testified last week he exchanged words with Suggs, but that Suggs threw the first punch, knocking him out.
David White, a recruiter with the United States Air Force who was playing in the tournament, testified that Suggs was threatening to knock out people before the fight, but Suggs was also saying he didn’t want to fight right there at the tourney. The white man threw the first punch and Suggs proceeded to deck him and then decked another man before someone else came in with a metal bar and hit Suggs with it, White said.
Joy Moeller, who was at the tournament for an ASU class project, said "the little guy was pushing the big guys" and that the little guy was white.
Suggs, who is 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, appears in court to be just slightly larger than his 18-year-old brother, Donald Suggs, who faces two counts of aggravated assault. Cook testified that he is 5-foot-10, 140 pounds.
Moeller said it appeared Suggs was trying to avoid a fight, although she was paying more attention to her project at the time than what was unfolding.
"I didn’t think there was going to be a fight," she said.
Suggs still stands accused of beating Henrie and causing him to suffer a "temporary but substantial disfigurement" and punching Cook, according to the criminal complaint. His brother still faces mandatory prison because he is accused of beating people with a baseball bat.
Wilkinson said he dropped the charge against Sanchez because even though he was photographed with a piece of steel in his hand, the jury would have to guess if he was taking it out of the fight as he claimed or hitting someone. Wilkinson also threw out a charge against Keith Wilson, saying he was "shocked professionally" there was so little evidence against him.