Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE – The attorney for LSU cornerback Jalen Mills remains hopeful that a felony battery charge against his client for allegedly punching a woman in the mouth will be dropped or lessened to a misdemeanor because he believes Mills did not punch anyone.
“I’ve met with Jalen and given the District Attorney’s office some information,” Baton Rouge defense attorney Brent Stockstill told Gannett Louisiana on Monday. “They are still working through all the information they have and are waiting to see more police reports on the incident and getting more information through interviews of witnesses. Right now, they do not have enough information to make a decision.”
A spokesperson at the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s office said the matter involving Mills, 20, is still being investigated.
Witnesses have told Stockstill that another woman romantically involved with Mills hit the female victim in the mouth on May 4 at the Northgate Apartments complex on Highland Road near the LSU campus.
“He (Mills) was not the person who struck the victim,” Stockstill said. “That would be consistent with some of the information I’ve received.”
A two-year starter at cornerback for LSU from the Dallas area, Mills spent last Tuesday night and most of Wednesday in jail after being arrested and charged with second degree battery for allegedly hitting the woman. He was bailed out Wednesday by his family for $10,000 and has been suspended indefinitely from the LSU football team by Coach Les Miles.
According to the arrest warrant that Stockstill is challenging, Mills approached the victim from behind at about 1 a.m. on Sunday, May 4, outside his unit at Northgate Apartments and punched her in the mouth. She was momentarily unconscious and required four stitches for a cut on her lip, the warrant says. The warrant also includes the height and weight of Mills – six feet and 195 pounds – and that of the victim – 5-3 and 113.
“I certainly think that the arrest warrant was written without anyone hearing the other side of the story,” Stockstill said. “If the District Attorney sees that as well, there is certainly a chance that either no charges will be filed or different charges will be filed, such as a lesser misdemeanor charge. There are several witnesses that the police did not interview before issuing the warrant. There were a lot of people around.”
Or East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore could proceed with the original charges, which would mean Mills could be jailed for five years at the most and a $2,000 fine, if proven guilty.
If the charge is switched to a misdemeanor such as the threat related simple assault or aggravated assault, Mills would be subject to days, weeks or months in jail and much lesser fines along with probation and restitution, if found guilty. If found guilty of simple battery, the punishment can be as much as six months in jail and a $1,000 fine with probation and restitution. Mills, who will be a junior this season, has had no previous arrests while at LSU.
The woman had knocked on Mills’ door at approximately 1 a.m. on May 4, because she said she was looking for a friend, the arrest warrant says. Mills “closed the door in the face of the victim,” and she knocked again. When no one answered, she began to leave.
But the victim told police she then heard someone say something to her, “and when she turned around Mills punched her on the mouth,” the warrant says. A witness told police she saw Mills punch the victim on the mouth, and the victim fall to the pavement.
Both the victim and the witness later identified Mills from among photos of five other men. Police investigated the incident and conducted interviews of the victim and witnesses at the apartment complex over the next three weeks, according to Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa. On May 29, police contacted Mills, who was out of town during semester break.
After initially avoiding police by missing an appointment and not returning calls, Mills was arrested shortly before midnight on June 10 – one day after summer classes began at LSU. He was booked into jail based on the “initial police report, statements by the victim and witnesses, injuries sustained by the victim and the identification of Mills,” according to the warrant.