Assault trial witnesses say McDaniel student was attacked in fight

Former football player accused in campus brawl with two sophomores

March 25, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Several former football teammates of a McDaniel College student accused of assaulting two McDaniel sophomores after a campus brawl last fall testified yesterday that the two younger students attacked the defendant.

Nicholaos G. Alevrogiannis, 23, of Westminster, a fifth-year student and a former standout football player at McDaniel, is charged with two counts of second-degree assault in a trial that began Tuesday before Judge Michael M. Galloway. Charges of racial or religious harassment against Alevrogiannis were dropped last week.

Witnesses testified yesterday about a confrontation Nov. 6 that left one of the sophomores, Stuart V. Johnson Jr., 19, with a broken finger and a wound to his jaw and neck that required 40 stitches, according to court documents. The other sophomore, Daniel Silva, 20, was also involved in the scuffle. Silva and Johnson are black. Alevrogiannis is white.

Silva just finished his second season on the college football team.

Another student, Thomas E. "Scoots" Crowell, 24, of Brinklow in Montgomery County, is to go on trial next month on assault charges.

David P. Daggett, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County, said at a hearing this month that the state was dropping two counts of racial and religious harassment against Crowell. He said witnesses had exonerated Crowell of those charges.

The fight began as a verbal exchange on a chartered bus filled with McDaniel students returning from a Baltimore nightclub and quickly escalated into a fistfight on campus, the charging documents say.

Defense attorneys J. Barry Hughes and Peter J. Korzenewski presented several witnesses yesterday who told the jury of eight men and four women about an exchange of words on the bus, including curse words and racial epithets, but said the fracas that ensued after students left the bus was prompted by Silva and exacerbated by Johnson, whom they said they saw wielding a broken bottle.

Corey Allen, a college sophomore, testified that Silva broke away from another football player who was escorting him and Johnson away from the bus, and charged Alevrogiannis.

Allen recalled several skirmishes between Alevrogiannis and the two sophomores after the bus returned to the campus about 3 a.m.

"Everything happened pretty fast. Both of them were throwing punches. ... Things were cooling off a little bit, and then I heard a bottle break," Allen said. "I turned around, and Stu was holding a bottle."

After that, Allen said, he left, thinking that nothing serious had happened. Allen, a place kicker and punter on the college football team, belongs to the same fraternity as Alevrogiannis.

Sophomore Ben Flaherty, Allen's roommate, gave a similar account of the fight. Flaherty, a running back on the football team, and Alevrogiannis belong to the same fraternity.

"As Nick started making his way down to his car, Dan Silva broke away and went at Nick," Flaherty said. "Nick stood his ground. Dan tried to tackle Nick, and Nick threw him down."

He said he hadn't noticed Johnson until he heard a bottle break.

"Stu had a broken bottle in his hand," Flaherty said. "And then Tom Crowell stepped in and tackled him."

Defense attorney Hughes asked Flaherty whether he thought Johnson was seriously injured.

"He had some blood on his shirt. With a white shirt, it looks more worse than it actually was," Flaherty said.

In an interview yesterday, Westminster police said that although broken glass was found on the pavement where the fight is said to have occurred, there was no conclusive evidence tying it to the assault.

"We could never determine if Mr. Johnson's injuries were made by a bottle," said Capt. Randy Barnes. "There was no witness information as to whether the victim was struck by that bottle."

None of the witnesses called by the defense could recall threatening language used by Alevrogiannis, though several students on the bus testified previously that Alevrogiannis had made violent and racist threats toward Johnson and Silva.

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