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DavidsonNews.net

DA Drops Assault Charge Against JP Douglas, Offers New Details Of Oct. Incident

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The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office has dropped assault charges against former Davidson College football quarterback JP Douglas, saying it cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and that he may have acted in self defense. Douglas was charged with stabbing another student in an altercation early Oct. 19 at his on-campus apartment in Jamieson Hall.

A NEW NARRATIVE

After the incident, Douglas was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon. While public reports following the incident painted a picture of a one-sided altercation, a prosecutor’s statement Wednesday tells a different story.

Wednesday’s statement from Assistant District Attorney Dan McNeill gave new details about the Oct. 19 incident. It says Douglas and another student, fellow football player Scott Holzwarth, began fighting outside Jamieson and continued inside the apartment, where Douglas and the other student exchanged blows. After entering the apartment, Douglas retreated to his room and locked the door. Holzwarth pursued him and banged on the door so violently that he damaged it, the report says. Douglas told investigators he opened the door and cut the other student with a pocketknife in self defense.

Douglas was arrested the morning of the fight, and released later that day from Mecklenburg County Jail on a $5,000 bond. After the incident, the now 22-year-old senior was suspended from the football team for the remainder of his senior season.

In assault cases, the state would be required to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. In dropping the charges, the district attorney’s office said that, given the facts of the case, it is impossible to prove that Douglas did not act in self defense when he cut the other student.

Douglas remains a student at Davidson and still faces a campus disciplinary hearing, according to his family and his lawyer. Davidson spokeswoman Cat Niekro said the college cannot provide additional information about the disciplinary process: “Federal privacy laws prevent the college from commenting on whether a student is facing disciplinary action.”

Douglas was not available for comment. His father, Hillery Douglas, said Wednesday his son will be back on campus Sunday night to begin the new semester. He said the family is planning to make a public statement, possibly at a press conference Monday.

On Thursday, his lawyer, Harold Cogdell of Charlotte, welcomed the decision to drop the charges, but thinks they never should have been brought.

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  “Given the facts developed by the Davidson campus police at the time, we are very surprised that any decision was made to arrest. And why weren’t both parties arrested?” Cogdell asked.

DavidsonNews.net editor David Boraks contributed to this story.

DISMISSAL TEXT

Here’s the full text of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office’s dismissal notice:

On October 19, 2014, an altercation between the Defendant, John Douglas, and the Victim, [Scott] Holzwarth, occurred on the campus of Davidson College in the early morning. The altercation began just outside the window of a suite-style campus dorm and eventually continued into the suite itself. Both the Defendant and the Victim admitted to striking and/or wrestling the other (with no weapons being threatened or produced) during the altercation that occurred outside of the suite. However, once inside of the suite, the altercation escalated, resulting in the Victim being cut on the shoulder by the Defendant, who admitted to using a pocketknife during this altercation. The case was investigated thoroughly by the Davidson Campus Police, who conducted numerous interviews in relation to the case. The investigation determined that alcohol use by both the Defendant and the Victim played a role in the incident.

The Defendant told police from the onset that he acted in self defense, and the evidence does not contradict his claim. The second altercation took place in the Defendant’s room inside the suite after the Defendant had returned to his locked room. Defendants are afforded certain defenses in criminal cases, including the right of self-defense. Witnesses heard the Victim banging on the Defendant’s door, which is corroborated by damage sustained to the door. According to the Defendant, the Defendant opened his locked door and cut the Victim due to what the Defendant perceived as a threat. The wound can be characterized as a minor.

Police also discovered a knife belonging to the Victim in the suite hallway. The Victim and the Defendant gave conflicting statements about whether the second knife also was brandished during the altercation.

In cases in which a jury would be able to consider whether a Defendant acted in self defense, the State is obligated to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the did not act in self defense. Due to the facts that the Defendant was in his own room and there were no eye witnesses beyond the two parties involved, the State does not believe it could meet the obligation of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

RELATED COVERAGE

Oct. 21, 2014, “Douglas appears in court on stabbing charge; previous suspension uncovered”

Oct. 20, 2014, “Wildcats suspend QB Douglas after he’s charged in stabbing”

Oct. 19, 2014, “Davidson quarterback charged with assault early Sun.”

Oct. 18, 2014, “Campbell rallies to edge Davidson, 28-27″

J.P. Douglas biography on DavidsonWildcats.com