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Acquitted men plotting next step after trial

The attorney of one of four men acquitted on sexual batterycharges in the alleged October gang rape of a Copiah-LincolnCommunity College freshman said the next step for his client isvery simple.

But then again, maybe it’s not. They will try now, said HazlehurstAttorney Jim Shannon, to put their lives back together.

“Two of them were playing football at Co-Lin, and they were allkicked out of school,” he said. “My understanding is that they’llall try to re-enroll in school.”

But none of them are expected to return to Co-Lin, according totheir lawyers.

Damonte Glover’s attorney, Bernard Jones, told the Clarion-Ledgerthat going back to the school in Wesson doesn’t seem to be arealistic possibility.

“There are going to be people, regardless of the verdict, who willstill judge them,” he told the newspaper.

Shannon said there has been enough damage to enough lives at thispoint, and that becomes the tragedy in a case such as thisone.

“They made a bad choice in their behavior and I hope they’velearned something from it,” he said. “These were good kids, theirlives were put on hold for 10 months, and they were looking at 30years in prison. I’m glad the evidence brought the truth tolight.”

Shannon’s client Jason West, 26, was charged along with CameronClark, 18, Glover, 20, and Justin Sandifer, 19, in an alleged gangrape in Ellzey Hall, a men’s dormitory on the Co-Lin campus. Thefour were acquitted Wednesday after the jury deliberated for eighthours.

“Basically putting it the nicest way I can, (the girl’s) storydidn’t match up with evidence from hospital and what she told thepolice,” Shannon said. “Credibility was a big issue. I think that’sthe reason why the jury came back with a verdict for ourclients.”

Courtroom testimony bore out that the story told by the girl tonurses just after the incident were contradictory to what she toldofficials about the encounter, Shannon said. But that wasn’tall.

“Physical evidence showed they found no trauma to show that she wasactually a victim of an assault, and I think that made a big impactwith the jury,” Shannon said.

In addition, campus police testified that the evidence in the rapekit did not match any of the defendants in the case.

Copiah County District Attorney Alexander Martin told the Jacksonnewspaper prosecutors were obviously disappointed in the outcome ofthe trial.

Two other men, Antonio Davis, 18, and Timothy Graves, 18, werearrested at the time of the incident.

Shannon said as far as he knows, they have not been indicted in thecase. Circuit Clerk Edna Stevens confirmed that there is nopaperwork so far in her office concerning Davis and Graves.

The girl has filed a civil suit against all the defendants in thecase, as well as against the college. Shannon said he and hisclient will be filing a counter-suit as the next step in theirlegal strategy.