A flower shop surveillance video, a cellphone video from a passer-by and tearful testimony from a California University of Pennsylvania coed were among key evidence in a hearing Monday that ended with six football players ordered to stand trial for allegedly beating a man until he lay unconscious.
Following a 2 1⁄2-hour hearing before a crowd of family and friends in West Brownsville, District Judge Joshua Kanalis ordered the student-athletes — Jonathan Barlow, 21, of Pittsburgh; D’Andre Dunkley, 19, of Philadelphia; Rodney Gillin Jr., 21, of Reading; James Williamson, 20, of Parkville, Md.; and Shelby Wilkerson, 20, of Harrisburg — to stand trial for aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in the Oct. 30 early morning attack on Lewis Campbell, 30, of West Chester.
A sixth player, Corey Ford, 22, of Harrisburg waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was ordered to stand trial on all charges.
Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone called four witnesses — Campbell’s girlfriend, Shareese Asparagus; fellow student Anthony Martin; California Borough Police Chief Rick Encapera; and Mike Hampe, a detective for the university.
Stopping at times to wipe away a tear, Asparagus described the “chaotic” confrontation that began shortly after 2 a.m. when Ford called after her as she, Campbell and Martin walked on Wood Street in the downtown area.
“He said, ‘Hey, Shareese’ and commented on the way I looked,” Asparagus said. Campbell spoke up for her, she testified, sparking a verbal confrontation that ended with him unconscious on the sidewalk, suffering from a concussion and brain bleed.
“It was completely chaotic,” she said. “Everyone was screaming, and then the football players started to gather around. … Someone pushed Lewis, and after that they just started to stomp him.
“It was six on one,” Asparagus said.
Asparagus said she attempted to hold Campbell back from the group but couldn’t restrain him.
Under cross-examination from defense lawyers, who suggested their clients may have acted in self-defense, Asparagus conceded she couldn’t say who pushed whom first.
Reading from a statement from Wilkerson, Hampe recounted the defendant saying he punched Campbell “because he feared for his life at the time” and that Campbell had made death threats during the confrontation.
Campbell, who is not a student at the university, spent seven days in Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, five of them in a medically induced coma.
He did not testify Monday.
Defense attorneys asked that charges be dismissed or reduced and complained that there were numerous inconsistencies in the testimony from Asparagus and Martin.
But a surveillance video from a Wood Street flower shop and cellphone video from a passer-by indicated a brief, but violent, fight occurred.
On audio from the cellphone video, those in the courtroom could hear a voice chanting, “Squad! Squad! Football team on deck.”
“It’s unusual to have video like this in an assault. We were fortunate,” Vittone said after the hearing.
All six men were suspended from the university and the football team.
Cal U interim President Geraldine Jones ordered a top-to-bottom external review of the football program.
Ford is awaiting sentencing in a New Year’s Day hit-and-run accident in Washington, D.C., that left a man in a coma.
Defense lawyer Phil DiLucente said Ford faces up to three years in prison on his guilty plea in that case.
He remains incarcerated in the Washington County jail.
Wilkerson, Williamson and Dunkley were released on bond last week.
Kanalis agreed to reduce bond for Barlow and Gillin to $50,000 following the hearing.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or email@example.com.