Mor­ris to miss start of train­ing camp

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By CLARICE SIL­BER As­so­ci­ated Press

PHOENIX — NBA train­ing camps be­gan this week for the Bos­ton Celtics and Wash­ing­ton Wizards, but two starters from the teams were no­tice­ably ab­sent. Twin broth­ers Mar­cus and Marki­eff Mor­ris were in a Phoenix court­room stand­ing trial on felony as­sault charges stem­ming from a 2015 beat­ing.

The NBA play­ers have been on trial for the past two weeks on charges that they joined three other peo­ple in the beat­ing of a for­mer ac­quain­tance out­side a high school bas­ket­ball game in 2015 when they played for the Phoenix Suns.

Mar­cus Mor­ris is ac­cused of kick­ing the vic­tim in the head while pros­e­cu­tors say Marki­eff was an ac­com­plice in the at­tack.

Clos­ing ar­gu­ments got un­der­way Thurs­day as pros­e­cu­tors urged ju­rors to con­vict the NBA play­ers of ag­gra­vated as­sault charges for their role in the beat­ing. Prose­cu­tor Daniel Fisher said the broth­ers “had an axe to grind” with the vic­tim and said they were in­tent on send­ing him a mes­sage.

Ju­rors will re­turn to the court­room Mon­day to hear re­main­ing clos­ings ar­gu­ments from at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing Marki­eff Mor­ris and the fi­nal de­fen­dant, Ger­ald Bow­man.

The vic­tim, Erik Hood, tes­ti­fied last week he knew the broth­ers since their AAU days when he was help­ing to con­nect agents with bas­ket­ball play­ers in hopes of get­ting a cut of a lu­cra­tive NBA con­tract.

Hood said their re­la­tion­ship soured in 2011 be­cause of a mis­in­ter­preted text mes­sage he sent their mother. He said there was noth­ing “im­proper” hap­pen­ing with him and their mother.

De­fense lawyer Ti­mothy Eck­stein re­minded ju­rors that Hood told au­thor­i­ties nine times that both twins were in­volved in the as­sault be­fore chang­ing his state­ment to say Marki­eff did not beat him but had been in the vicin­ity.

The de­fense at­tor­ney said Hood re­peat­edly lied dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and that Hood knew he had to “dou­ble down on Mar­cus” beat­ing him be­cause the case wouldn't be worth any­thing with­out one of the broth­ers in­volved.

Mar­cus was traded to the Bos­ton Celtics in July as part of a ros­ter over­haul that added Kyrie Irv­ing and Gor­don Hayward in an at­tempt to make them more com­pet­i­tive with the LeBron James-led Cleve­land Cava­liers in the East­ern Divi­sion.

If they are found guilty, the Mor­ris broth­ers face the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­ba­tion or prison time and dis­ci­pline from the NBA, in­clud­ing a min­i­mum 10game sus­pen­sion.

Celtics pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Danny Ainge said the team and of­fi­cials have been in con­tact with Mar­cus through­out the trial. The team dis­patched an as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager to Phoenix to at­tend the pro­ceed­ings.

“We're just wait­ing like ev­ery­body else to see what hap­pens there,” Ainge said. “But we feel good about what will hap­pen. At the same time we un­der­stand what pos­si­bil­i­ties ex­ist.”

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