Jones trial pushed back

The trial, which was originally set to begin in November, was moved to March.

Jake Grovum

Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum ruled Wednesday to push former Gopher football player Dominic Jones’ trial date back four months to March 31 – nearly a year after Jones allegedly raped an “unresponsive victim” inside a University Village apartment.

Citing “voluminous” pages of case files he had yet to review, Dominic Jones’ attorney Earl Gray sought to postpone the date of Jones’ third-degree criminal sexual conduct trial to February in a motion hearing Wednesday morning.

“(The prosecution) has had since April 6 to prepare for this trial,” Gray said after the hearing. “The judge saw through that and gave us this date.”

Gray said he hasn’t been able to prepare for the trial because he has not yet obtained all the case evidence. In an Aug. 30 hearing, Rosenbaum ruled the state must turn over to Gray the “voluminous” pages referred to in his argument Wednesday.

At the hearing, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Martha Holton Dimick called the material Gray referenced “weekend reading” and defended the original Nov. 13 trial date.

Jones attended the hearing, but without remark in the courtroom. Previously, he waived appearances in motion hearings.

Gray argued he had 463 single-spaced pages of case files to review, three witnesses to track down and another video to examine in former Gopher football player Keith Massey’s phone that “may well be exonerating” for his client.

“It’s been a difficult task to read these reports,” Gray said. “There’s just no way I can try this case by November.”

Holton Dimick said no video exists other than the one investigators retrieved from former Gopher football player Alex Daniels’ cell phone, allegedly showing Jones performing a sex act on an unresponsive victim.

The video, which forensic experts reconstructed after a four-month investigation, led to Jones’ July 15 arrest.

“There are no surprises here,” Holton Dimick said. “This is a very simple case.”

Earlier, Gray requested the Nov. 13 trial date, despite prosecutor’s suggestion that the trial should take place in January or February, Holton Dimick said.

“At that time, I should have listened to the prosecution,” Gray said.

Gray said in an interview after the hearing he set the original date because he was pushing for access to case evidence.

Outside the courtroom, meanwhile, Jones said he maintains a good relationship with his former teammates and coaches.

Jones wouldn’t comment on the case, however, saying, “I can’t really voice my opinion like I’d like to.”

Recently, Gray put in a motion for discovery of counseling and medical records of the alleged victim from the Aurora Center – a tough request due to Minnesota rape shield laws.

Jamie Tiedemann, director of the Aurora Center, called this request “rare” and said the center typically works out legal issues with the University’s general counsel.

There has been no ruling on the motion.

Davi Axelson, a University law school graduate and public defender, said for the state to turn over that evidence, a judge must review it privately and decide if it is admissible in court.

“He might just be going on a fishing expedition,” Axelson said of Gray.

To his end, Gray, a prominent Minnesota criminal attorney, has won all discovery requests. The state has had to turn over the cell phone video that led to Jones’ arrest and some of the alleged victim’s personal information – such as her phone number – despite a sworn statement from a Hennepin County advocate for victims of sexual assault testifying on behalf of the alleged victim’s privacy.

Scheduling conflicts have repeatedly risen since Jones’ July 17 arraignment. Hennepin County ordered a specially assigned judge to the case because officials said it might have taken too much time away from the regular felony blocking system.

Court documents state the trial is expected to last three weeks.

The incident when Jones allegedly raped an “unresponsive victim” occurred inside former Gopher football player Robert McField’s apartment.

McField, who is now serving a 12-year sentence in a St. Louis prison on two counts of armed robbery, gave the alleged victim eight shots of vodka, according to the criminal complaint.

Dr. Stephen Smith, an expert on drug and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, testified the alleged victim’s estimated blood alcohol content was 0.30 percent at the time Jones allegedly raped her, based on her weight and how much alcohol she consumed.

This would leave a person in a stupor, in which he or she experiences inability to stand or walk and impaired consciousness, Smith testified in the complaint.

University police arrested Massey, Daniels and former Gopher football player

E.J. Jones April 6 in connection with the alleged rape. Authorities released the players three days later without charges, pending further investigation.

Athletics Department officials dismissed the four former players from the Gopher football team after Jones’ arrest.