Terrell Suggs acquitted in felony assault trial

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was acquitted in his felony aggravated assault trial Wednesday by an Arizona jury that found the Pro Bowl pass rusher not guilty on all counts. Suggs' younger brother, Donald Suggs, was found innocent of two aggravated assault charges that could have earned him a mandatory prison term if convicted.

"I prefer two-a-days to prison any day," Suggs told reporters afterward in a reference to the Ravens' training camp, which begins Aug. 1 in Westminster. "You can give me six-a-days over prison."

The case stemmed from a March 29, 2003 brawl at Phoenix Municipal Stadium following a three-on-three basketball tournament, weeks before the Ravens drafted Suggs with the 10th overall pick of the first round.

After the verdict was rendered, Suggs, 22, shook Maricopa County Superior Court prosecutor Elizabeth Gilbert's hand and thanked her before walking out of the courtroom. The former Arizona State standout then helped a teary-eyed Donald Suggs up from his knees in the hallway.

"That's great news for Terrell," Ravens team spokesman Kevin Byrne said. "It's a shame the prosecutor pursued this in the first place, but Terrell got his day in court and proved his innocence. Sometimes, celebrities do get special treatment, but not in the way people think."

The case involved the Suggs' brothers, their cousin, two passers-by who joined the fray and three alleged victims.

Jury forewoman Jennifer Martinez said prosecutors' evidence was insufficient and left the jury puzzled as to what actually happened. Both sides portrayed the other as the aggressor and claimed they acted in self-defense.

"We were not absolutely certain," Martinez told reporters. "There were too many contradictions. We couldn't convict him based on that."

Suggs declined prosecutors' plea bargain offer last month that wouldn't have entailed jail time, saying he didn't want to "destroy" his name for something he said he was not guilty of.

Midway through the trial, Judge Michael O. Wilkinson threw out one felony count against Terrell Suggs citing a lack of evidence and dismissed charges against two other men. Wilkinson let stand one felony count of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor against Suggs with both charges dismissed Wednesday afternoon.

One of the alleged victims, who said he was one of Suggs' best friends in high school in Chandler, Ariz., claimed Suggs threw the first punch. However, defense witnesses said that one of the alleged victims - a 5-foot-10, 140-pound man -- initiated the fight against the 6-4, 260-pound NFL athlete.

Another defense witness testified that the alleged victim bragged about starting the fight and said he planned to sue the Suggs' brothers for millions of dollars.

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

Suggs, who has generated 22 ½ sacks through two seasons, missed all but one of the Ravens' minicamps because of his legal obligations.

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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