Prosecution rests in UNC football assault case

November 17, 2008 12:48:29 PM PST
Two current UNC football players and one of their former teammates testified in an Orange County courtroom Monday about a bizarre night last December in which all three claim they were tied up and two claim they were held at knifepoint.

Aaron Stahl and Lowell Dyer, both offensive lineman on UNC's team, and Scott Lenahan, who graduated last winter, testified against Michael Lewis, 33, of Durham, their alleged assailant.

Lewis faces charges of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, felony larceny and other charges in connection with the incident at the Chapel Hill apartment Stahl and Dyer shared. According to testimony, the three players were out celebrating Dyer's 21st birthday when Stahl met Lewis and two women at a bar on Franklin Street.

Stahl testified that he became separated from his teammates and asked Lewis and the women for a ride back to his apartment. He acknowledged in court that he was very drunk.

He said the events of what happened between leaving the bar and arriving at his apartment are blurry. "When I came to, I was bound in a chair in my underwear. I had my wrists tied up, my feet tied up and I was blindfolded with my own tie," Stahl testified. He also said that at least one of the women was forcing herself upon him.

Lewis' defense has argued that Stahl propositioned the women and encouraged them to return home with him.

Lenahan testified that he and Dyer returned to the apartment a short time later. Dyer, who acknowledged drinking between 15 and 17 beers and drinking liquor as well, went right to his bedroom.

Lenahan testified that when he arrived at the apartment, he saw Lewis, who was naked. Lenahan said Lewis encouraged him to head into the bedroom where Aaron and the women were. Lenahan said he didn't exactly know what to think, but that since Lewis new Stahl's first name, he didn't perceive a threat. Plus, he thought he might encounter a funny situation in the bedroom.

"I wanted to go in and more or less see what was going on in the room and the next day it'd be a good locker room story for the guys," Lenahan testified.

He said one of the women took off his shirt and began to tie him up. At first, Lenahan didn't stop her, but at some point, he realized he wasn't in control. Then, Lenahan testified, Lewis put a knife to his neck, piercing the skin, and threatened him.

"I was literally, I was scared for my life," Lenahan testified. "At that point, I thought there was a very good chance I might die. He [Lewis] said, 'you don't want your mother having to go to your funeral because I'm going to kill you.'"

At some point during all of this, Dyer said he realized something was amiss in the apartment. Clandestinely, he called 911 while his teammates were allegedly tied up in the other room.

Dyer, UNC's center, testified that Lewis then entered his room and began rifling through his things. Dyer pretended to be asleep, but when he moved, he said Lewis came toward him.

"He put a knife to my throat, starting removing my belt, told me to roll over after that," Dyer testified. "He fastened my hands behind my back and left the room." Dyer said that he elected not to resist or fight back because Lewis had a knife to his neck. "In all seriousness, he could've slipped, and I could not be here," Dyer said.

The police arrived a short time later. Lewis' attorney concedes that Lewis tried to flee police but was eventually caught. Lewis is accused of biting an officer in the process of attempting to escape.

Investigators found a couple of backpacks containing several items from the apartment which Lewis allegedly planned to steal. Among the items, according to prosecutors, were a laptop, X-Box, I-pod and video games.

On cross-examination, Lewis' attorney, Russell Hollers, had each player reiterate that they were very drunk at the time of the incident.

On a scale of 1 through 10, with 10 being the most drunk they have ever been, each player said he was at least an "8" on the night in question. Hollers also pointed out some inconsistencies between the players' testimony today and during prior court appearances and statements given to police.

Lewis faces conspiracy, felony larceny, robbery, kidnapping and assaulting an officer charges. The prosecution rested Monday after the three players testified. The defense will not call any witnesses in Lewis' defense.


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