UTM football players among suspects in beating
By TRACY SHARP
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 8:51 am
The Messenger 03.31.09
By TRACY SHARP
Special to The Messenger
University of Tennessee at Martin freshman Tyler Turner left the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house Thursday night, walked into the parking lot and headed to his pickup truck.
While en route, several men in black ski masks allegedly attacked him, punching and kicking him in the head, “beating his face into the hood of a car and dragging him down the side of his truck, leaving blood running off the hood of his truck and bloody hand prints running down the side of it,” according to a letter from his mother, Kim Turner.
She alleged several people witnessed the attack and she wants justice in what she is describing as a hate crime.
Three men have been issued criminal summonses for the crime and are scheduled to appear in Weakley County General Sessions Court on April 15. Dontrell J. Miller and Willie L. Blount were cited on assault charges Friday afternoon, while Roren D. Thomas was arrested for criminal responsibility for conduct of another.
Miller and Thomas are members of the 2008 UT Martin Skyhawks football team. Both were starters last season and were expected to return to contribute to the team this year. Miller, a junior defensive back, was named to the Associated Press’ Football Championship Subdivision All American team in December 2008.
“We are still reviewing all details. The university will give a statement as soon as everything has been reviewed,” said Dr. Margaret Toston, UT Martin vice chancellor for student affairs.
According to Ms. Turner, it is believed the incident was retribution for an altercation that allegedly occurred Wednesday night when a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and a football player got into an verbal disagreement.
“The attackers do not personally know my son. They were directing their attack against the (fraternity) brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha as a group due to a confrontation that occurred the night before between one of the brothers and another UTM football player,” Ms. Turner alleged in a written statement to the media.
“Ty was the victim of a malicious, premeditated assault in a dark parking lot just feet away from the UTM campus,” his mother claimed. “He was a victim of circumstance. Ty was just the unlucky (Pi Kappa Alpha member) that walked out in a dark parking lot. It was not my son who was the target. It was the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha.”
According to an incident report from the Martin Police Department, all three men confessed to their part in the alleged ambush after being read their Miranda rights Friday afternoon. The police report goes on to say that Justin Burlison, Mary Katherine Hill and Amanda Griffin “witnessed the events that transpired,” reporting “multiple males wearing black ski masks on their faces were kicking Mr. Turner when they arrived at the Pike (Pi Kappa Alpha) House parking lot.”
Turner was treated and released at Volunteer Community Hospital in Martin as the result of sustaining a concussion and abrasions to his head.
His mother said in an interview with The Weakley County Press Monday morning that her son had no fractures but was to get a dental exam and physicians would be examining damage to his left eye as well.
“I’m just so glad the witnesses were brave enough to respond,” she added.
Ms. Turner said she is not going to let those people who were bystanders to her son’s beating off the hook either.
“I’m not going to be happy until the accessories are off the campus,” she said.
Phil Dane, UT Martin director of intercollegiate athletics, said there will be no comment from the university’s athletics department concerning the discipline of any student-athletes allegedly involved in the incident until after the student conduct officer has completed her report.
“In the meantime, I am pledging to our fans and the general public that we will take lessons from every aspect of this incident and enhance our efforts toward good citizenship,” Dane said in a written statement issued late Monday afternoon. “The vast majority of our student-athletes represent our program respectfully in every aspect of their conduct and we regret that this incident occurred.”
Editor’s note: Tracy Sharp is editor of The Weakley County Press in Martin.