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“Challengers” releases in theaters on April 26.
Review: “Challengers”
Published April 13, 2024

Jones to appeal case verdict

Dominic Jones was sentenced to one year in the workhouse and a four-year stay in prison.

Correction: This article’s subheading incorrectly stated that Jones received a four-year stay in prison. He received a four-year stayed prison sentence.

Within the next eight days, Earl Gray, the defense attorney of former Gophers football player Dominic Jones, will file motions to appeal Jones’s fourth-degree sexual assault conviction and to suspend his sentence in the Hennepin County workhouse pending the appeal.

Jones was sentenced to one year in the workhouse and a four-year stayed prison sentence last Thursday.

The sentence was more severe than recommended in Minnesota for the charge against Jones because of the particularly demeaning and humiliating nature of the act, Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum said.

Gray will raise between six and 10 “procedural errors” from the trial in the appeal, he said.

“I think the appellant court will give him a new trial, because he was denied a fair trial,” Gray said.

In the appeal, Gray will argue that the testimony of Alex Daniels should have been admitted in trial.

Daniels, another former Gophers football player, was one of the three men accused of raping the victim more than a year ago.

When Jones arrived at Daniels’ apartment the night of the incident, Daniels told him that he and two other men had already had consensual sex with the victim, Gray said.

“Alex told Dominic what he had previously done, and that she wanted to meet him because he was a big-time football player,” Gray said.

During the trial, the prosecution contended that the victim was unresponsive after drinking eight shots of vodka before Jones entered the apartment.

Minnesota rape shield laws didn’t allow the defense to delve into the alleged events of earlier that evening or pose questions about them to the victim during the trial.

“That’s a denial of your right to cross-examine the witnesses against your client,” Gray said. “It’s also a denial of your right to present a defense.”

Gray will also argue against the admission of at least one of the prosecution’s testimonies, and that Jones was deprived of his due process rights.

Jones is set to begin his sentence in the workhouse on July 7. The appeal could take six months to a year.

University law professor Barry Feld said jail sentences are rarely suspended pending an appeal.

After the hearing last week, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he was pleased with the sentencing.

“We believe justice was done,” he said. “He’ll spend meaningful time behind bars, which is what he deserves.”

Jones also received seven years supervised probation, a $6,000 fine and additional restitutions yet to be determined by court services.

He will have to register as a sex offender and attend sex offender counseling.

Jones will be eligible for work or school release. However, Gray said Jones has been “released” from the University and that he no longer has an athletic scholarship.

Prior to sentencing, Jones addressed the court briefly, apologizing to his friends, family and anyone else who was “negatively affected.”

The victim also read a statement to the court expressing the trauma she endured in the past 14 months.

“I don’t feel there is any punishment that would justify my permanent damage,” she said. “I’m the only one that has a mandatory life sentence because of this assault.”

Andy Mannix is a senior staff reporter.

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