Washington court date set for December

Derrick Washington will be tried for two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault Dec. 8. He is pleading not guilty.

Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels set a preliminary hearing for Washington’s felony sexual assault charge for Monday, but defense attorney Christopher Slusher asked that it be waived.

Slusher said he planned to request a jury trial for the felony case and said he is considering requesting a change of venue.

Washington did not appear in court Friday because, although he is required to appear for his sexual assault case, he is not his domestic assault case.

The former Missouri tailback is accused of hitting and choking an ex-girlfriend in September, and sexually assaulting a former MU tutor in June.

Slusher said having the misdemeanor case tried by jury would push the court date back again, past December.

“We are considering requesting a jury trial (for that case),” he said.

Preliminary hearings are never held for misdemeanor cases, but they are typical for felony cases. Slusher said preliminary hearings are rarely held in Boone County.

“We’re waiving our right to something we’re never going to get,” he said.

Washington is currently living and attending school in Kansas City. He was dismissed from the Missouri football team in August after he was charged with sexual assault. He later withdrew from MU, forfeiting his scholarship.

Sunne, S.A. (2010). Washington court date set for december. The Maneater, 77. Retrieved from http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2010/11/5/washington-court-date-set-december/

Sentencing cost calculator spurs mixed reactions

An online application that calculates the cost of sentences for felony cases has spurred mixed reactions among members of the justice system.

The Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission added this feature to its sentencing-recommendation application in August. For a second-degree robbery conviction, a sentence of five years probation with enhanced supervision would cost the state almost $9,000. A five-year prison sentence for the same charge would cost almost $55,000.

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Most judges already know these figures, 13th Circuit Court Judge Gary Oxenhandler said. The feature simply provides them with even more information to help them make a decision.

“You hope that if you give judges a lot of information, that they’ll come up with the right punishment for the crime,” said Oxenhandler, who is a member of the sentencing advisory commission.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said he is concerned the application gives cost concerns too much influence on a judge’s decision.

“It’s just very difficult, I think, to calculate the financial cost of doing justice in these cases,” Knight said.

A defense attorney, he said, might argue that a defendant who deserves incarceration should not go to prison because it would be too expensive. Columbia Trial Office District Defender Tony Manansala said judges might utilize the cost calculator because both Boone County and the state are facing budget crises.

“The state cannot afford to incarcerate as many people as they have been on low-level offenses, nonviolent offenses,” Manansala said.

Oxenhandler said the cost of a punishment is one of the least important factors judges consider.

“We’re more concerned about public safety than we are about what it costs,” he said.

In light of the state’s budget crisis, though, judges do have to take costs into account. Oxenhandler said judges and attorneys in Boone County might use the cost calculator more than anywhere else.

“Everybody’s broke right now,” he said.

Defense attorney Christopher Slusher said he didn’t think the application would have much influence on cases here in Columbia because judges already know that sentences require substantial amounts of money.

“I don’t think judges are going to consider the cost factors as much as some of the other things in the case,” Slusher said.

When the Prosecutor’s Office makes a recommendation to a judge regarding a sentence, it considers factors such as the severity of the offense and the likelihood of the defendant reoffending, Knight said. It also considers the victim’s wishes and the defendant’s criminal history.

Knight said is it extremely rare for his office to recommend prison for a first-time offender committing a nonviolent crime, even if that crime is a felony.

Manansala said the cost calculator might affect borderline cases, when the judge is on the fence between sentences. The application works for all felonies, but it would probably only be used for less severe offenses such as property crimes, he said.

But, calculations for dangerous felonies such as rape and murder are available on the application. Knight said he wondered why the commission made this information available if they didn’t plan for anyone to use it.

“Then why is it available, if it won’t be considered?” he said.

Sunne, S.A. (2010). Sentencing cost calculator spurs mixed reactions. The Maneater, 77(13), Retrieved from http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2010/10/8/sentencing-cost-calculator-spurs-mixed-reactions/

Washington’s preliminary hearing set for Nov. 5

At a hearing Thursday, Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels raised Derrick Washington’s bond amount from $1,000 to $10,000 for his domestic assault charges from Sept. 14.

Daniels required Washington to attend all court proceedings for his domestic violence and sexual assault cases, starting with a preliminary hearing for the felony sexual assault case Nov. 5.

Washington’s new bond also requires he have no contact with the people involved with the incidents and not commit any law violations, even a speeding ticket.

“You need to be responsible for having no contact with law enforcement,” Daniels told Washington.

Defense Attorney Christopher Slusher said there was no danger of Washington interacting with the victims because he has moved back to the Kansas City area. He appeared at the hearing with his parents.

Washington has been participating in disciplinary processes at MU, though he is no longer enrolled and has forfeited his athletic scholarship. Slusher said Washington is continuing school this semester in the Kansas City area.

Slusher argued the court should not increase Washington’s bond amounts because it would cause him financial hardship as a college student. He also argued Washington was not a flight risk, he had no prior offenses and different people were involved in the separate incidents.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrea Hayes asked the judge to increase the bond amount for the felony sexual assault charge to $25,000, but Daniels denied her request. Daniels increased the bond for the domestic assault charges because Washington was out on bond when he allegedly committed those infractions.

“As I understand the facts in (the sexual assault case), there were no physical injuries associated with the events,” Daniels said.

Boone County prosecutors charged Washington with deviate sexual assault Aug. 31. The assault was digital penetration and the charge is a Class C felony, Hayes said.

Washington is accused of hitting and choking another woman, an ex-girlfriend, Sept. 14, according to the Columbia Police Department’s probable cause statement. He was charged with two counts of third-degree domestic assault, which are misdemeanors.

The court trial for those misdemeanors is also scheduled for Nov. 5, but Hayes said it will probably be postponed to give the prosecuting and defense attorneys more time to prepare.

Sunne, S.A. (2010). Washington’s preliminary hearing set for nov. 5. The Maneater, 77(9), Retrieved from http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2010/9/24/washington-preliminary-hearing-set/

Athletics Department stands by disciplinary system

Despite the arrests of three football players and one coach in the last month, Athletics Department spokesman Chad Moller said the department’s disciplinary system is effective.

“You certainly can’t prevent things from happening, but when they do happen, I feel that we have a solid system in place,” he said. “It’s responsible for all parties involved.”

Under the department’s policy, student athletes who are charged with a felony are immediately suspended from all competition and practice. If they are convicted, they are dismissed from the team.

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Former Missouri football senior captain Derrick Washington was permanently suspended from the team when he was charged with felony sexual assault Aug. 30. Permanent suspension, or dismissal, is the most severe punishment the Athletics Department can impose, Moller said.

“When you are removed from being part of a team, that would be to me the strongest action that can be taken from an athletic standpoint,” he said.

Moller said athletes who are temporarily suspended could be reinstated if the felony charges are dropped or reduced. If a student is charged with a misdemeanor, his or her coach decides the punishment.

Most Big 12 schools have similar disciplinary policies for student athletes who are arrested.

Moller said the athletics department encourages social responsibility and discourages alcohol and substance abuse among its athletes almost on a daily basis.

“You can educate all that you can and it still comes down to individuals making the right decisions,” he said. “What we try to do is reach kids and hope that they understand that decisions have consequences.”

Athletes face temptation to use alcohol and other drugs because they are under a lot of pressure, said Jason Shaffer, who helps run an NCAA athlete alcohol abuse education conference called the APPLE Conference.

He also said athletes might be tempted to overindulge in these substances because they are forbidden from using them during the season.

“I think there are a lot of complex factors that all go into it,” Shaffer said.

Three Missouri Tigers were arrested for driving while intoxicated in August, including assistant coach Bruce Walker. Beau Brinkley and Will Ebner were not suspended from the football team when they were arrested in August because they were not charged with felonies.

In 2009, quarterback Blaine Dalton was suspended after he was arrested on suspicion of possession of liquor by a minor, a misdemeanor. He was later dismissed from the team after he was arrested again on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

A total of seven Missouri athletes have been suspended due to arrests within the last year. Women’s basketball players Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson were suspended indefinitely after being arrested for assault in December 2009.

The majority of Big 12 schools have suspended or dismissed three or fewer players due to arrests within the last 12 months, according to news accounts. The schools’ athletics departments declined to give an exact number or discuss specific cases.

When Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box was arrested for disorderly conduct last February, his punishment was handled internally because it was not a felony, Oklahoma athletics department spokesman Kenny Mossman said.

Kansas Jayhawk Jamal Greene was dismissed when he was arrested for the felony of attempted armed robbery, Kansas athletics department spokesman Jim Marchiony said.

Chuck Sczuroski, national crime prevention council senior trainer, said alcohol use among students and athletes is sometimes underestimated as a serious crime, because it can lead to crimes such as DWIs and sexual assault. The NCPC offers crime prevention training to campus law enforcement agencies.

“Folks don’t want to see something that they think is relatively small affect either (the athletes’) careers or their eligibility,” Sczuroski said.

Sunne, S.A. (2010). Athletics department stands by disciplinary system. The Maneater, 77(9), Retrieved from http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2010/9/24/athletics-department-stands-disciplinary-system/

Judge revokes, resets Washington’s bond

At a hearing Thursday, Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels raised Derrick Washington’s bond amount to a total of $10,000 for his domestic assault charges from Sept. 14.

Washington’s parents both attended the hearing.

Daniels required Washington to attend all court proceedings for his domestic and sexual assault charges, starting with a preliminary hearing Nov. 5.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrea Hayes asked the judge to increase the bond amount for the felony sexual assault charge to $25,000, but Daniels denied it. Washington’s new bond also requires that he not contact with the people involved with the incidents and that he does not commit any law violations, even a speeding ticket.

“You need to be responsible for having no contact with law enforcement,” Daniels told Washington.

Sunne, S.A. (2010). Judge revokes, resets washington’s bond. The Maneater, Retrieved from http://www.themaneater.com/blogs/crime/2010/9/23/judge-revokes-and-resets-washingtons-bond/