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pc in NM
11-23-2005, 09:24 AM
Just in case you are curious....

From this morning's Albuquerque Journal ($$ subscription required):
Dismissed Lobo Player to Plead to Misdemeanors

By Mark Smith

Copyright 2005 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer

In his bid to be reinstated to the Lobo men's basketball team, Aaron Johnson is expected to plead guilty today to misdemeanors instead of felony charges stemming from a fight with police outside a Downtown bar.

Johnson was arrested in the early hours of Sept. 24 and charged with four felony counts of battery on a police officer.

His attorney, Henry Alaniz, said in an interview Tuesday that Johnson will enter a guilty plea this morning in front of District Court Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch to two misdemeanor counts of "resisting, evading or obstruction of a police officer."

Alaniz said the district attorney has agreed to allow him to plead to the lesser offenses, but the judge has yet to accept the plea.

Lobo men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay, who kicked Johnson off the team after the fight with police, said the former player's status with the team will be reviewed after he enters his plea. The coach has said Johnson would remain off the team as long as felony charges were pending.

"I've had conversations with Aaron, he's kept me aware of the situation," the coach said. "He has said all along he hopes to be reinstated. After he makes his plea, the staff and I will talk and we'll move forward from there."

Jonathan Ibarra, a Bernalillo County assistant district attorney, confirmed Tuesday that a tentative plea agreement has been reached with Johnson. Ibarra would not comment on the terms of the agreement since it has not been approved by Murdoch.

The agreement is expected to be presented to the judge at an 8:30 a.m. hearing today in his courtroom.

Ibarra said Johnson was not given special treatment during plea negotiations. He said cases like Johnson's frequently result in a lesser or different offense than what was initially charged.

"Clearly people are rarely charged with everything they are initially (arrested for), otherwise there would never be an incentive for the defendant to plead," Ibarra said. "This is very typical for this kind of case. As it turns out, the people reviewing the case didn't realize who the defendant was until after they decided what to do."

Alaniz said, "The offer was agreeable to (Johnson) and his family to allow him to move forward."

Johnson transferred to UNM from Penn State last summer after his junior season. He was to sit out this season as a redshirt before having one year of eligibility remaining with the Lobos in 2006-07.

Police reports stated that Johnson and two other men were engaged in a fight outside the Downtown bar Raw. The other two were arrested but when officers tried to seize Johnson, he resisted.

Reports said the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Johnson threw a slew of punches at officers, landing some. The four officers used a chemical spray to eventually subdue him.

Alaniz said Johnson faces no charges from the original fight.

Alaniz said Johnson declined to comment Tuesday, but would do so in a news conference Friday.

Although he was kicked off the team, Johnson has spent nearly every practice with the Lobos. McKay has allowed Johnson to remain on scholarship as the team's videographer. Johnson also shoots basketballs with the team on the Pit floor after practice.

The Lobos are in Manhattan, Kan., for a game against Kansas State tonight.

Alaniz says he's "never negotiated with the basketball team" about trying to get Johnson reinstated. "That's Aaron or his dad working on that. Both are confident ... he can get back on.

"The charges are obviously less than felonies, so (Johnson's status as a Lobo) shouldn't be affected. It's up to the coach, but this should open the door for Aaron to get back to the Lobos."

Johnson came to New Mexico with some question marks. After announcing his transfer from Penn State, he got into a fight with teammates at his apartment. Police were called, but no arrests were made
IMHO, We dodged a bullet on this guy; The Lobos are fools to continue their association with him....

pc in NM
11-26-2005, 11:59 AM
Yhe Lobos have reinstated Aaron....

From the Albuquerque Journal ($$ subscription required):
Saturday, November 26, 2005

Men's Basketball: Lobo Who Was Arrested For Battery Is Reinstated

By Mark Smith
Journal Staff Writer

A humble and contrite Aaron Johnson was reinstated to the University of New Mexico basketball team Friday, and he promised to make the community proud.

Johnson was booted from the team, but never the program, in late September after being arrested on four felony counts of battery on a police officer. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of resisting a police officer and was sentenced to 364 days of unsupervised probation and ordered to stay away from bars and alcohol for one year.

"We all have made mistakes in the past," UNM coach Ritchie McKay said at a news conference at the Pit. "... People were saying he's this and that. He's hurt by it. I was hurt by it, the insinuation we didn't value character in this program. ... Well, that's part of life. Mistakes happen, there's bumps along the way. I also think part of life is grace."

Johnson, who transferred to UNM from Penn State last summer, will sit out this season as a redshirt. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

As part of his team punishment, Johnson will remain on scholarship this season but be stripped of it next year.

When asked why he didn't try transferring to a school that might give him a scholarship, Johnson said: "I've never had a family like this in my life in basketball. My teammates, coaches. ... When you have people who care, you want to do it."

Johnson, who led the Big Ten in rebounding last season, was arrested after getting into a fight with two other patrons outside the Downtown bar Raw. Police reports state that when officers tried to subdue Johnson, the 6-foot, 9-inch, 240-pound player threw a slew of punches at them, landing some.

Johnson's attorney, Henry Alaniz, said Johnson was unaware he was being restrained by police.

"It all started when Aaron saw two individuals, who were intoxicated, and they were making rude remarks to a female outside the bar," Alaniz told the Journal. "Aaron told them, 'This is not the time or place.' One hit him, then the other struck him, and that started the fight. They fell into the bar. The bouncers broke it up, pepper spray was used and Aaron was guided out of the bar by a bouncer.

"Immediately outside the bar, from Aaron's standpoint, someone was tugging at him, so he starts pulling away or resisting. The next thing he knew, he was on the ground, stomach down. Aaron wasn't sure who was tugging at him. It was the police, and that's where it became resisting arrest."

Johnson, who credited Alaniz for doing a great job, refused to comment on the fight.

"I don't want to get into a he-said, she-said thing," he said. "It's more of me being wrong."

Johnson, whose parents came to Albuquerque from the Philadelphia area for Wednesday's plea, said he wanted to "apologize to the fans, my teammates, my coaching staff, my family, my friends; not only embarrassing them, but really not acting the way my parents brought me up.

"In the future my actions will show that not only am I remorseful, but I am going to do the right things and I am going to be a positive image in this community and this program."