I figured my first blog on the beat was going to merely be an introduction to myself.
Hello. My name is Amelia. I’m going to do my best to always keep you in the loop, and as it turns out, that starts now.
Monday, Trevor Mbakwe was scheduled to have a court appearance for his Jan. 2011 arrest for violating a restraining order that had been in place since 2009. Ultimately, the appearance yesterday was postponed, but as the whole process with this case and the Miami assault case can seem complicated, I wanted to set straight exactly what’s going on in Mbakwe’s legal world.
A recap: Mbakwe was arrested in April of 2009 for felony assault after a woman identified him through a photo as the man who had attacked her outside the apartment complex where they both lived. According to the woman, Mbakwe tried to pull down her pants and then punched her twice, fracturing bones in her face. Mbakwe missed the 2009-10 season at Minnesota while the case was ongoing, but in the summer of 2010 enrolled in a pre-trial program which would drop the charges once he completed the conditions.
What’s happening now: When Mbakwe was arrested in Minnesota in January for violating a restraining order, he was automatically thrown out of the pre-trial program. Once he “bounced-out,” Mbakwe became ineligible to be re-enrolled in the program.
What that means: Miami-Dade District Court spokeswoman Terry Chavez said theoretically Mbakwe could have to stand trial in the Miami case. Realistically, “That’s not going to happen,” she said. Instead:
  • Chavez explained that the case can be reset until both sides agree on a plea. This could go on for months, a year, whatever.
  • Most likely he will eventually plead and get probation or house arrest. “It could be a plethora of things but it’s probably not going to include jail time because you don’t take a leap from pre-trial intervention to jail,” Chavez said.
  • According to Chavez, Mbakwe may or may not actually have to be present at the individual hearings as the case progresses (which could be minor interruptions in the season). That depends on the individual judge.
A recap: Mbakwe was arrested in January for violating a two-year restraining order set by his ex-girlfriend in 2009. Mbakwe had posted a New Years’ message on her Facebook wall. The restraining order had not previously been reported.
What’s happening now: Mbakwe’s St. Paul lawyer, Laura Nolen said the case was assigned to a specific judge and given “standby” status from the beginning, as is typical with many cases in Ramsey County in which the defendant is not being held. Basically, that just means, there is no set date; the judge simply identifies possible time slots as they become open. Monday, there was a possible slot, but Mbakwe’s case was never seen due to time. After today, the judge will be out of country for an extended period of time.
What that means:
  • Nolen expects that if she does not hear from the judge today, the case will not go to trial until at least April (the next open slot with jurors after this week).
  • According to Nolen, there is a good chance it will ultimately be dismissed because of a lack of specificity in the restraining order to include social media. If it is not dismissed, it will likely result in some sort of probation.
Chavez and Nolen seem to believe both of these cases will go out with a fizzle, months and years after the initial arrests. Mbakwe’s Miami lawyer, Gregory Samms, declined comment. Even though both cases will likely drag on for some time, there is nothing essentially new in either one. As such, most likely neither would affect Mbakwe’s playing time or impact his season. If that changed, U of M officials said they would comment on the situation. Nolen said Mbakwe is frustrated at the lengthy process, but is looking forward to putting everything behind him and being able to focus solely on basketball, something he should still be able to do this year.

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