A New York Jets football player who was charged with malicious wounding while he was a student at Hampton University two years ago signed off on a plea agreement Monday that reduces the charge to a misdemeanor and allows him to avoid deportation.
Kenrick A. Ellis, 24, a second-year nose tackle with the Jets and a former all-conference player at HU, was charged in April 2010 with an on-campus attack that left a fellow student unconscious. That student, Dennis Eley, had his jaw and nose broken and several teeth knocked out, according to the prosecutor on the case.
The altercation followed a dispute a day earlier between Eley and Ellis’ girlfriend, according to a summary of facts read at the hearing by the prosecutor. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy McMullen said the assault took place after Ellis spotted Eley on campus and asked him to come talk to him. In the ensuing altercation, she said, he “got behind Eley and put his arm across his throat.”
Under the felony malicious wounding charge, Ellis faced up to 20 years in prison and deportation if convicted.
In the plea agreement, approved Monday by Hampton Circuit Judge Bonnie L. Jones, Ellis was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery. He was sentenced to 179 days — 90 to serve and 89 suspended.
Because of a jail policy to award one day off for every day of good behavior, that means Ellis could get out after 45 days. The fact that he wasn’t convicted of a felony, and got less than 12 months on the misdemeanor, means the Jamaica native won’t face deportation.
“There was a lot of competing evidence in this case, and there are two sides to every story,” said Ellis’ attorney, Tim Clancy, who left the hearing with Ellis’ agent, Drew Smith. “Our contention was that it was mutual combat, and that my client won.”
Clancy said Ellis’ immigration status was the “primary reason” he agreed to the plea deal. “Obviously the risks to him were much greater than the normal defendant,” Clancy said.
Ellis entered an Alford plea, a form of a guilty plea in which he maintains his innocence but acknowledges that enough evidence exists to convict him.
He will report to the Hampton City Jail on June 15, with the agreement saying that the “manner and time of incarceration” would be addressed separately. Clancy said he would ask Jones to allow Ellis’ time to be split, with the majority of time being served in June and July, before the Jets’ training camp, and the rest served next March, after the NFL season. Read Full Article