Tuesday, January 25, 2022

No more to be charged for fight

March 27, 2002

After reviewing testimony involving an October fight that included football players and fraternity members, the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office says it will only charge a sophomore defensive end, citing lack of evidence to pursue others.

Clifford Dukes, 20, is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing today in 54-B District Court on four counts of assault and battery and two counts of aggravated assault.

The charges, issued on March 20, involve an Oct. 25 incident at Delta Sigma Phi, 1218 E. Grand River Ave., where Dukes wasn’t allowed into a party, fraternity members say. A brawl broke out and police arrived later.

“I feel more than Mr. Dukes are criminally responsible,” Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said. “But when I put together what we have, that’s as far as I can get.

“I wish I knew everything that happened. It’s like in hockey, the guy who gets the penalty for fighting isn’t always the guy who started it.

“I’m not exactly sure which individual started this melee, but Dukes finished it and that’s unfortunate.”

According to an official from oral surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Persico’s office, one of the fraternity members listed in one of the assault counts had a broken jaw operated on in October.

An East Lansing police report lists junior fullback Mark Goebel as a witness to the Oct. 25 fight. Former freshman fullback Brian Burns, who is on a medical scholarship after suffering a career-ending neck injury on Dec. 1 against Missouri, also was listed as a witness in the report. Both Dukes and Goebel continue to participate in spring practice, MSU athletics department spokesman John Lewandowski said.

A formal request to speak with Dukes was denied Monday by MSU’s Sports Information Department.

Lewandowski said the athletics department, football team and its players decline comment until the issue is resolved. Burns could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but had no comment on Monday.

Duke’s attorney, Brian Jeffries of ASMSU’s Legal Services, also declined to comment.

All six involved in the incident who police asked to fill out a survey - a standard procedure when trying to figure out the punishment a charge should carry - failed to complete the forms, Dunnings said.

Dunnings also said a second arraignment may be scheduled to reduce the original charges against Dukes because not all counts exclusively involve the sophomore defensive end.

“I don’t believe all the persons were in mutual combat,” Dunnings said. “Those are the ones we’re going to focus on.”

Dunnings said he is open to the idea that Dukes was fighting in self-defense.

“From my understanding, Clifford Dukes is claiming self-defense,” Dunnings said. “And there may be evidence for that, I’m not close minded to that. We are still sorting this thing out. When I get sufficient evidence I will act on it.”

Jon Hockman, the fraternity’s national executive director, refused to comment Monday, saying the fraternity would release a statement at a later date. Chapter President Nick Brunner said a statement would be released Monday, but couldn’t be reached on Monday or Tuesday. No release was received by The State News.

Prenursing sophomore Romaya Woods, a friend of Dukes, said she wasn’t at the fight, but he was probably acting in self-defense.

“Now he’s perceived as the epitome of violence and that’s not true,” Woods said. “There’s no reason to be scared of him. Everyone who knows him says he’s a sweetheart. Cliff wouldn’t just start laying people out, he was probably defending himself. He shouldn’t of been there, but everyone has the right to go where they want to go.”

Dukes will continue to participate in spring practice until the case is resolved, Lewandowski said.

Lewandowski said Dukes’ backup at defensive end, junior Dominick Brown, will miss the remainder of spring practice. Brown fractured his right elbow Monday after it was sandwiched between two helmets. He will return to the lineup in the fall.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at ricejust@msu.edu.

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