Suspended Six Month Sentences For Misdemeanor Criminal Trespassing For UM Football Players [WATCH]
All five defendants in a felony burglary case that occurred over the weekend have had their charges reduced to misdemeanor criminal trespassing. Four entered guilty pleas, and one pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents, early Sunday morning, November 1, the UM students, including Grizzly football players Kendrick Van Ackeren, John Schmaing and Joey Counts, along with Maclain Tomlinson, were walking down Pattee Canyon Drive from a party where they had been drinking, and entered an occupied structure, after calling Reep to come pick them up and give them rides home. Tomlinson found a 24-pack of beer, which he planned to share with the others. The owners of the home had called police, and all five were arrested and initially charged with felony burglary, which includes the intent to commit a crime.
The only property that had been disturbed was the 24 pack of beer, and no one was injured during the incident. Tomlinson was the only one of the five to be charged with misdemeanor theft.
All three players entered pleas of guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespassing. Substitute Justice of the Peace Shane Vannatta sentenced all three to six months in jail, all suspended, and other conditions.
"The court orders 80 hours of community service, pay $16,500 in counseling fees for the family affected by the break-in, to be shared by all the defendants," Judge Vannata said. "Within 30 days of sentencing, all defendants shall listen to the 9-11 call from the incident. You will not consume alcohol or enter any bars of casinos that serve alcohol, and you are restrained from 200 Pattee Canyon Drive. The court will allow a deferral on this upon completion of all of these conditions within one year."
Each of the four defendants who entered guilty pleas made statements of remorse to the court and to the family whose home they entered.
Van Ackeren's mother, a parole officer, testified on behalf of her son, stating that she brought up two sons as a single mother, and that Kendrick had never been in trouble with the law before. She apologized to the family of the home they entered.
Courtney Reep entered a plea of not guilty and asked for a jury trial. She claimed that she was only there to offer a ride to the four men.
Following their felony arrests, all three football players were suspended from all team activities, as prescribed in the UM Student Athlete Code of Conduct as a category one offense. The charges have now been reduced to misdemeanors, a category two offense. The code states that the student athlete faces a minimum suspension of 10 percent of scheduled contests.
KGVO has reached out to University of Montana Athletic Director Kent Haslam for a comment on the possible repercussions of the student athletes' actions. The team faces three more games this season, Idaho State this Saturday, as well as Eastern Washington at home and the MSU Bobcats in Bozeman.