Jury begins deliberations in Suggs trial

The jury began deliberations Tuesday in Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs' felony aggravated assault trial, retiring for the night without reaching a verdict.

A verdict could be rendered as soon as Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona after Tuesday's closing arguments, which would bring closure to a case stemming from a March 29, 2003 brawl that followed a three-on-three basketball tournament.

Judge Michael O. Wilkinson has already thrown out the more serious of the two felony counts against Suggs, ruling that the prosecutor hadn't provided substantial evidence for the jury to make a decision.

Although Suggs still faces one felony count of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor, the Pro Bowl pass rusher no longer faces a mandatory prison sentence if convicted.

Suggs acted in self-defense, according to testimony from two U.S. Air Force recruiters who witnessed the altercation at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.Two of the original four defendants were dismissed from the case.

However, Donald Suggs, Suggs' younger brother, still faces two aggravated assault charges that could put him in prison for a minimum of five years.

The alleged victims, Jeryme Cook, Casey Cothern and Anthony Henrie claimed that Suggs and his friends followed them into the parking lot after Cook argued with Suggs' cousin.

The Suggs' brothers and two other men allegedly attacked the victims, with Henrie claiming that he was hit with an iron bar while Suggs held him down. Terrell Suggs allegedly knocked out Cook, and Donald Suggs stands accused of beating Cook and Cothern with a baseball bat.
Suggs was allegedly hit over the head with a piece of metal rebar, struck from behind with his back turned.

The alleged victims' testimony was heavily impeached by Suggs' lead defense attorney, Larry Kazan, according to court transcripts. Several defense witnesses have said that Cook was the aggressor and that Suggs acted in self-defense.

One of the Air Force witnesses claimed that one of the "skinny white guys," while referring to the alleged victims pushed Terrell Suggs and called him an "overpaid" expletive. The alleged victims are white, and the Suggs' brothers are African-American.

The witness also testified that Suggs asked the man to stop pushing him and when he pushed him again, then the former Arizona State standout defended himself.

A former friend of Suggs and of the alleged victim testified that Suggs' accuser bragged about initiating the melee. He added that Cook said he planned to sue the Suggs' brothers for millions of dollars.

Suggs turned down prosecutors' plea bargain offer last month that wouldn't have entailed jail time, saying he refused to "destroy" his name for an accusation he claimed is false.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome testified as a character witness on Suggs' behalf.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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