Jefferson indicted on simple battery, Johns cleared

Published: Sep. 29, 2011 at 11:11 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM CDT
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Jefferson (r) and attorney Lewis Unglesby arrive for a grand jury hearing Wednesday.
Jefferson (r) and attorney Lewis Unglesby arrive for a grand jury hearing Wednesday.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A decision from the grand jury cleared suspended LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson of a felony charge Wednesday. Instead, he faces a misdemeanor. All charges were dropped against linebacker Josh Johns.

The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office presented evidence to the grand jury over two days. At the end of the second session, the panel decided there was not enough evidence to charge Johns with any crime, but there was enough to indict Jefferson on simple battery.

"They heard from eye witnesses on both sides and returned what they felt were charges that were consistent with the facts of the case," said prosecutor Prem Burns.

The fight outside a bar six weeks ago sent the LSU fans and football team into a big dilemma. Jefferson and Johns were suspended. The Baton Rouge Police Department arrested the duo on Aug. 26 and charged each of them with a felony. The situation put the district attorney's office in an uncomfortable position.

"I think that the most expeditious and most fair way of instigating charges in this case and declining charges on the second defendant was actually used and I think the least criticism can be leveled by using the grand jury system and had it been done by just one person in one office, we would have gotten it from every side," Burns added.

Jefferson's attorney said the entire affair was a miscarriage of justice.

"This all started out wrong," said Lewis Unglesby. "The whole thing was a mistake from the beginning and you know, I'm glad he's going to get back on the team and I'm glad he's going to get to play football."

The attorney for Josh Johns pointed the finger at overzealous police.

"The grand jury itself, I think, listened to Josh, listened to all the witnesses and realized that the police had made a mistake in arresting my client," said Tommy Damico.

Four people claimed to be injured in the fight. Simple battery carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. There was no word yet on a trial date for Jefferson.

Both Jefferson and Johns were arrested on felony charges of second-degree battery following the brawl outside Shady's Bar. The pair could still face civil lawsuits in connection with the fight.

Jefferson was the last person to testify before the grand jury Wednesday afternoon. Several others, including Johns, appeared earlier in the day. Jefferson showed up just before 2:30 p.m. The questioning wrapped up around 4:15 p.m.

Johns testified earlier in the morning. According to attorney Tommy Damico, Johns answered questions for about an hour. The proceedings are secret, so it is unknown exactly what he said.

Johns arrived for the hearing shortly before 10:30 a.m. He showed up through a basement entrance, avoiding media cameras.

Earlier, three other LSU football players arrived to answer questions under oath. Lavar Edwards, Derrick Bryant and Evan Washington were seen heading up to the proceedings.

Several witnesses and alleged victims testified a week ago about the fight.