Morris twins acquitted in Phoenix assault case

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) defends Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 8, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

— A Phoenix jury acquitted NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris in their aggravated assault trial Tuesday.

The Morris brothers, former University of Kansas players, have been on trial for the past two weeks on charges that they helped three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood in January 2015 outside a high school basketball game in Phoenix.

At that time, the 28-year-old brothers played for the Phoenix Suns. Marcus now plays for the Boston Celtics and Markieff is with the Washington Wizards.

Defense attorneys Timothy Eckstein and James Belanger patted the brothers on the back as the verdict was read. The Morris twins hugged their attorneys after the jury was led out of the courtroom.

“From the beginning we expected them to acquit but just putting this time here,” Marcus Morris said outside Maricopa County Superior Court.

Both players have missed the start of the NBA preseason because of the trial.

Another defendant, Gerald Bowman, also was found not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault. Two other co-defendants pleaded guilty to the charges on Sept. 13.

Hood did not attend court to hear the verdict read.

Jurors got the case Monday afternoon. They began hearing testimony Sept. 18.

Belanger said in closing arguments that the case was tainted by Hood’s mentor trying to solicit two witnesses to implicate the Morris brothers for a cash payment in return.

Two witnesses testified about the mentor’s attempt and their refusal to lie. They both went to break up the fight and placed the Morris twins near the site but not as part of the altercation.

Belanger said he thought the defense had a very good case without that but when the jury found out “it was the prism that they had to look at everything else through.”

Prosecutor Daniel Fisher had urged jurors to convict the brothers, saying Marcus Morris kicked Hood in the head and Markieff Morris acted as an accomplice because “they had an ax to grind” with him.

Defense attorneys pressed Hood during his testimony about his financial motives in the case and his knowledge of the NBA players’ substantial financial assets.

They also repeatedly said Hood lied to police nine times when he said both twins were involved in the assault. Hood later changed his statement to say Markieff did not beat him but had been in the vicinity.

Eckstein, the lawyer for Marcus Morris, said during closing arguments that Hood knew he had to “double down on Marcus” beating him because the case wouldn’t be worth anything without one of the brothers involved.

Hood testified he wanted justice for the beating that left him with a broken nose and other injuries.

He said he has known the Morris brothers since their youth basketball days, but they had a falling out in 2011.

Hood testified that his relationship with the twins became strained because of a misinterpreted text message he sent their mother. But he said there was nothing “improper” happening with him and their mother.

The Morris brothers said they felt relieved and were ready to get back to their teams.

“We put our faith in our lawyers,” Markieff Morris said.

Comments

Bryce Landon

They may be acquitted, but that doesn't mean the Morrii aren't bad dudes.

2 weeks, 4 days ago

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James Miller

EVERYONE knows not to mess with Angel Morris. That guy is lucky the twins don"t put address out on the web, Jayhawk fans will pay a visit daily. FOE!!!!!

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Andy Hess

I would love to hear some actual evidence as to why they're "Bad Dudes." All I can think of is the time they got in trouble for messing around with an airsoft gun as freshmen. I can't believe some of you alleged fans would be so quick to throw our own guys under the bus.

2 weeks, 4 days ago

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Jerry Walker

Quick??

2 weeks, 4 days ago

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Gerry Butler

Why don't you know Andy? - - Marcus and Markieff are bad dudes cause Bryce says so lmao. - - and when Bryce speaks - - -people listen what a joke , they get this rap cause of their aggressiveness on the court. - -I remember a couple of times scuffle of players and the Morris brothers there to back up their teammates I as player love having those kind of guys knowing they got my back when someone wants to start problems. - -There are just SOME people that they find a label wagon to ride about some people get a running start and take that flying leap to climb on. - Wonder how clean these same people's own backyards are? - - -Love the Morris brothers wish we had more like them here now - -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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James Miller

Exactly!!!

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

" you alleged fans would"?

Why would anyone other than a fan spend time here?

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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Dyrk Dugan

Great news! Now they can get on with their careers and lives; per whatever trial testimony has come out, it sounds like justice was done.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Hood's mentor? He was 36. What does that mean in this instance?

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Mike Greer

Bryce is just upset because they didn't win a national championship while they were here.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Bryce Landon

They're still bad dudes even if they had won a national title while they were at KU.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Yonatan Negash

Show love the Morris twins, they're good people.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Adrian Meneses

I have this thing in "how folks misuse turn signals while driving", folks these days use signals in the middle of their action & turn them off before the action is finished which leads to many accidents. If a so called person does this, you know someone who does or if this is you.......I consider you a Bad Dude!! 3-2-1.......Perception usually wins!!!

2 weeks, 2 days ago

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