Carmel HS bus assault charges re-filed in Hendricks County
Hamilton and Hendricks Counties - A third former Carmel High School basketball player charged with assault was expected to accept a plea agreement in Hamilton County court Monday. But it will not end Robert Kitzinger's legal troubles. He also now faces two additional charges in Hendricks County.
Robert Kitzinger agreed to a deal similar to the ones already taken by former teammates Scott Laskowski and Oscar Falodun.
Both of those players agreed to 40 hours of community service and a year's probation in exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness. Those charges stemmed from the players' behavior in the team locker room.
Attorney James Voyles issued the following statement on Kitzinger's behalf:
"In open court, Robert Kitzinger apologized to the victim identified as MF and his family for his actions. Due to recent misdemeanor charges in Hendricks County, Robert cannot talk directly about this matter. Robert does want to express the fact that he is very sorry for participating in the piling on event which involved MF. MF is a great young man who has told the truth about what happened to him from day one.
For over the last ten months on behalf of Robert Kitzinger, we have asked for the legal process to take its course and allow the truth of the case to be determined through that process. That process has resulted in the decision made today and will ultimately result in a decision made in another county.
Unfortunately, what we have seen in this case is that certain people have made statements at various news conferences and/or in front of a camera which the news media has then reported as the truth. It is important for everyone to remember that just because an individual is eager to talk in front of a camera does not make what they are saying the truth."
Hendricks County charges
Meanwhile, in Hendricks County, the prosecutor has filed misdemeanor charges against Kitzinger and another former player, Brandon Hoge, for their actions on a team school bus on January 22nd, 2010. Those battery charges were dropped by Hamilton County because the alleged assault occurred in Hendricks County while the team was on its way back to Carmel after an away game.
Hendricks County Prosecutor Patricia Baldwin says the charges were on based testimony from the alleged victim, witnesses and video from a bus camera, which she describes as dark and grainy.
"The bus video certainly shows the students and movements on the bus and more than anything it kind of goes along with what the witness testimony was," she said.
Hoge and Kitzinger are accused of holding a freshman player down and assaulting him. The probable cause affidavit states that the freshman boy told police Kitzinger sat on his head while he "felt a hand go into his 'butt'." Other players also reported witnessing the assault.
Hoge and Kitzinger initially faced the same charges in Hamilton County, but Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp later dismissed them because the alleged crime took place along I-70 in Hendricks County.
While Robert Turner, the victim's attorney, had pushed for felony charges, he said he was pleased with how Baldwin was handling the case.
"Though I do not necessarily agree with the level of the charge, the misdemeanor, I do respect the fact they've been treating my client with the respect any citizen or victim should be given in court," said Turner.
But chances are his client will not see the accused in court.
Baldwin noted the vast majority of misdemeanor cases never go to trial. They usually end in a plea agreement.
Baldwin wouldn't say where things stood with defense attorneys - only that she was waiting for a judge to set the initial hearing.