Hung Jury

Harris' trial declared a hung jury after four hours of deliberation yeilds a 5-1 not guilty vote....

More than 14 hours after the trial's start, a jury failed to come to a unanimous verdict in the case involving felony battery charges against Florida defensive end Steven Harris at the Alachua County Courthouse on Friday.

The jury came back at 11:45 p.m. when four hours of deliberation had produced a 5-1 not-guilty vote. The hung jury resulted in a mistrial. A new trial has been set for Oct. 13.

"We did all we could do," Harris said. "I'm not really upset. I'm just tired of having to go through this. [The prosecution] tried to prove a case, which in my opinion, was not successful."

According to a police report, Harris was charged with punching and kicking Brian Assent, 22. The attack allegedly caused "permanent disfigurement" to the victim's mouth and jaw outside a Gainesville nightclub following last spring's Orange and Blue game.

Because the trial lasted slipped late into the evening, five players were forced to miss Friday's walk-through practice in order to testify in the former Miami-Coral Gables High standout's defense. The players left after their testimonies ended at around 6:30 p.m.

Gavin Dickey, Channing Crowder, Reggie Lewis, Tremaine McCollum and Terrence Holmes, who were with Harris through most of the night in question, all stated that they never saw him punch, strike or kick anyone outside the club.

Dickey, who said he was with Harris for most of the night, said the atmosphere at the 2 a.m. closing time was extremely hectic.

"The scene was chaotic – one of the craziest things I've ever seen in my life," Dickey testified. "The place was dark. [There was] screaming, yelling."

Through similar testimony from each of the athletes, the defense aimed to cause a reasonable doubt of whether anyone could properly identify the true offender.

Witnesses for both the defense and prosecution said a fight within The Palace filtered the crowd from the venue. Once outside, several other altercations occurred – one of which involved Crowder and another Florida student.

Within minutes of the first fight, the prosecution's witnesses all claimed they saw the defendant strike Assent, but each offered slightly differing accounts.

In Assent's testimony, the victim stated he never saw the offender after being sucker punched from behind. Following another blow to the head, the prosecution said Assent was then kicked in the jaw.

The prosecution's witnesses later identified Harris in a photo line-up of eight black football players.

Michael Douglas, the detective who investigated the case, testified that upon initially interviewing Harris, the defendant admitted to striking several people during the fight within the club.

In Harris' testimony, he confirmed that he did indeed throw punches within The Palace, including one that struck a former Florida track athlete.

However, he said he apologized to the athlete and never hit or kicked anyone once he left the building – the site of the alleged felony battery.

"There was a lot of different fights going on," Harris said in his testimony. "I just wanted to find [the athlete] to apologize again."

The trial's conclusion will end a long string of off-season problems plaguing the Gators. In June, Crowder and linebacker Taurean Charles pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery in separate incidents.

A police report stated Charles threw a female student across his dorm room, while Crowder was involved in the same incident that Harris was charged in. Charles and Crowder served one-game suspensions for their action, and both played against Miami.

Harris has practiced with the team for the past two weeks, but he remains suspended pending the verdict.

The redshirt freshman, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound backup defensive end, worked out with the scout team in his first season at Florida.

Fightin Gators Top Stories