Basketball players’ court cases continue

Royce White and Trevor Mbakwe have experienced slow legal proceedings.

Michael Rietmulder

University of Minnesota police expect to wrap up their investigation this week into the Nov. 7 theft of a laptop allegedly involving first-year basketball player Royce White. âÄúWe have just one or two more interviews to do with some potential victims,âÄù University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. Miner said they have not had a chance to speak with the involved students who have been out of town over break. Miner expects to turn the case over to the Minneapolis City AttorneyâÄôs Office by the end of the week. The City AttorneyâÄôs Office will then review the case to determine whether criminal charges will be filed âÄî a process that according to Miner usually takes about a month. On Nov. 17, WhiteâÄôs attorney F. Clayton Tyler said he hoped the case would be resolved within a week. However, two months later, a resolution does not appear imminent. Meanwhile, the Gophers are six games into conference play, but White, who was considered Tubby SmithâÄôs prize acquisition in this yearâÄôs recruiting class, has yet to log a minute. The talented forward has been suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of his legal matters. Smith has said WhiteâÄôs suspension cannot end until his legal matters are resolved. In December, White issued a series of YouTube videos voicing his frustration and promoting his record label, âÄúWhite and Brown Entertainment.âÄù In the third installment, White announced that he would be departing from college basketball before his career ever really started. âÄúI want to play for the Gophers. I still wish I could âĦ I wish I could bring banners to The Barn. I wish I could be a great teammate to my teammates âĦ I wish I could do all those things, but I canâÄôt wait for the justice system to go in the right direction anymore,âÄù White said in the video. White said he was suspended for two exhibition games for an Oct. 13 incident at the Mall of America in which he later pleaded guilty to theft and disorderly conduct. After being implicated in the laptop theft, he was suspended indefinitely. White cited the stress the situation was putting on his family as the reason for his decision. âÄúIt would take something big for me to go against the decision to leave college basketball,âÄù White said. âÄúAs of right now, IâÄôm leaving college basketball.âÄù Despite the Dec. 17 YouTube announcement, White did not file papers asking for his release and has since attended âÄî without participating âÄî team practice, though it is unknown if and when he will play this year. WhiteâÄôs teammate, junior forward Trevor Mbakwe, has also been riddled with slow legal proceedings. Mbakwe faces a felony aggravated assault charge in Miami-Dade County, Fla., stemming from an incident that took place in April 2009. Like White, Mbakwe has not played a game this year while the legal process runs its course, though he has been consistently practicing with the team. âÄúAt this point, there has yet to be a trial date set,âÄù Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade State AttorneyâÄôs Office, said. A report date has been scheduled for Feb. 8, at which a trial date could potentially be set. The report hearing is simply to ensure that both sides are making progress in the case. There have been reports that the trial has been delayed in part because MbakweâÄôs lawyer, Gregory Samms, has had difficulty obtaining depositions from important witnesses, including MbakweâÄôs former roommate and teammate Darnell Dodson, who now plays basketball at the University of Kentucky. Samms declined to comment on the case. Griffith said most dilatory issues pertain to the defenseâÄôs ability to mount an adequate defense and that such delays are not uncommon. âÄúItâÄôs not like âÄòLaw & Order.âÄô âÄòLaw & OrderâÄô moves very quickly. Those cases come from crime to trial in 60 minutes,âÄù Griffith said. âÄúEven your sense of watching the show, in six months theyâÄôre at trial. That never happens anywhere in America.âÄù