Charges amended in UTM assault case
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2009 9:15 pm
By TRACY SHARP
Special to The Messenger
Dontrell Miller, Willie Blount and Roren Thomas are charged in the alleged beating of 19-year-old Tyler Turner, who was assaulted the night of March 26 as he left the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house in Martin.
Now, Miller and Thomas — who were starters last season on the University of Tennessee at Martin football team — are facing felony charges.
The charges have been amended to aggravated assault for both Miller and Blount. Thomas is charged with criminal responsibility.
Kim Turner, the victim’s mother, said Wednesday the family is pleased with the decision to upgrade the charges.
“We believe that these charges are much more fitting to this crime,” she said.
The three men are slated to appear in Weakley County General Sessions Court April 15.
UT Martin issued a statement Monday but has had no comment regarding the amended charges, a move that has Ms. Turner upset.
“We are certain that there are other football players that have information on this crime,” she claimed. “For the safety and reputation of the university and the UTM football program, we hope that they will quickly come forward so that this case can be closed.”
“We are not settling for less than identifying and charging all of those involved,” she added.
“These are real students, a real situation, and we understand the human relationships,” UT Martin Chancellor Tom Rakes said. “The university is continuing its assessment of the recent incident within the framework of university policies and procedures. We will make every endeavor to complete the review of the situation and make a determination of the appropriate actions that need to be taken by the university as quickly as possible.”
Ms. Turner has inquired about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the members of the team but university officials said they could not release the information due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which does not allow them to release information.
FERPA states a university cannot confirm nor deny information related to the outcome of any student disciplinary matter without a waiver from the person involved.
Ms. Turner said she is not done with her campaign to bring everyone involved to justice regarding what she considers a brutal attack of her son.
“This has been a horrific ordeal that many innocent people have been thrust into and we all deserve to hear from the university with a response,” she said.
Editor’s note: Tracy Sharp is managing editor of The Weakley County Press in Martin.
Published in The Messenger 4.3.09