Four University of Maryland football players and one former player have been arrested and charged in connection with an incident in a campus dormitory in November. All five were released on bond.
Charging documents filed by campus police Det. Kathryn Wilder alleged that the five entered an apartment in the dormitory through an unlocked but closed door, seeking a bicycle allegedly stolen from the former player, Ed Simms. Simms allegedly confronted a resident of the apartment, Christopher Blunck, who then allegedly was struck by Simms and later allegedly hit and kicked by at least two people.
Simms then allegedly kicked in another door while searching for the bicycle. After the bicycle was located, the charging documents stated, one of the players, Andrew Smith, took it from the dormitory and rode it to Simms's residence.
The four players--redshirting freshmen Andrew Smith, Michael Whaley, Jamar Perrin and Scott Smith--were suspended from the team immediately after the incident occurred Nov. 15, Maryland Coach Ron Vanderlinden said yesterday through an athletic department spokesman.
Whaley, 19, Perrin, 18, and Scott Smith, 18, were charged with first-degree burglary, third-degree burglary and second-degree assault. If convicted of all charges, they could receive a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Perrin, of Temple Hills, and Scott Smith, of Philadelphia, also were charged with theft of less than $300, punishable by a maximum of 1 1/2 years in prison and a $500 fine.
Andrew Smith, 18, of Laurel, was charged with first-degree burglary, third-degree burglary and theft of less than $300. If convicted of all charges, he could receive a maximum penalty of 31 1/2 years in prison and a $500 fine.
"The [players] were immediately suspended pending the outcome of the case," Vanderlinden said through the spokesman. "The judicial process needs to run its course, and any further comment would be inappropriate."
Simms, an 18-year-old from Woodbridge who quit the team in September, was charged with first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, theft of less than $300 and malicious destruction of property. At a preliminary hearing last month, the assault charge was reduced to second degree and the burglary charge was reduced to fourth degree. Simms faces a maximum punishment of 13 years 8 months in prison and $3,500 in fines.
Blunck's father, Ron Blunck, said his son did not suffer any serious injuries.
The four players have preliminary hearings scheduled later this month in District Court of Maryland for Prince George's County.
Attempts to reach Perrin, Whaley and Scott Smith were unsuccessful. Andrew Smith declined to comment, but his attorney, Timothy F. Maloney, said his client "denies any wrongdoing."
"They are charging people as a group," Maloney said. "It is unfair to some very good and innocent kids. There are some individuals in that group."
Simms has a trial date in District Court set for March 15, but has asked for the trial to be held sooner so he can begin a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In his motion, Simms said he wants to continue his football career at Brigham Young University.
Simms could not be reached to comment, but his mother said the incident is out of character for him. "I don't want to sound like he is a goody-two-shoes, but he is," Valerie Jones said. "A minute of anger is causing him a lot of trouble. It's not like him."