Testimony continues in UNC Football player assault case

November 13, 2008 5:26:24 PM PST
Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a man accused of conspiring to rob three UNC football players, allegedly assaulting two of them at knifepoint, in December.

Michael Troy Lewis faces charges of felony larceny, first-degree kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, robbery and assault on a government official for his alleged role in the December 16 incident in Chapel Hill.

The players and Lewis tell radically different accounts of what happened.

All agree the three players met Lewis and two women, Tnikia Washington and Monique Taylor, at a bar on Franklin Street, where the players were celebrating at 21st birthday.

One of the players supposedly invited Lewis and the women back to his apartment, and they left the bar, separating from the other two players.

The other two players arrived at the apartment about 3 a.m., according to police. One of those players, who police say was intoxicated, went immediately to his bedroom.

The other player arriving late quickly soon saw something that didn't seem right.

"He saw a black male exit the second bedroom wearing only socks," said Celisa Lehew, an investigator with the Chapel Hill Police Department, who testified Thursday.

Lehew said the player told her that Lewis was naked and wielding a knife. Lehew also said the player told her that he found his teammate -- the one who'd left Franklin Street early -- and the two women in a room with Lewis. That player was on the bed, and his wrists were tied.

Then the player who entered the bedroom was tackled himself, investigators said.

In testimony Thursday afternoon, prosecutor Morgan Whitney showed jurors photos of the players who were allegedly victimized, taken shortly after the incident. An investigator pointed out markings on the players' wrists, said to be left after the players were tied up. The same investigator also noted a mark on one of the player's necks which resulted, prosecutors say, from Lewis placing a knife to the player. At least one of the players told investigators he feared for his life.

"He told me that he thought he was going to die that night," Lehew testified.

Prosecutors also showed jurors several pieces of evidence in courtroom proceedings Thursday. They were shown the knife -- in a plastic case -- allegedly used by Lewis during the assaults and two belts and neckties which investigators say were used to bind the players wrists and feet.

Investigators said that the player who arrived home drunk and immediately went to his bedroom was also victimized. That player told police that, while in bed, he saw a naked man enter his room. That man -- who investigators say was Lewis -- put a knife to the player's neck and tied his hands and feet with a belt and shoelaces. Lewis allegedly stole his wallet, demanding the PIN number to the victim's debit card.

When Lewis left that victim's bedroom, that player called police, who arrived a short time later to find the players bound. They arrested the two women. They say Lewis assaulted an officer and escaped before being captured.

The three players -- two of whom are still on UNC's football team -- are expected to testify Monday.


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