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LSU's Hill pleads guilty to misdemeanor

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - LSU running back Jeremy Hill remained out of jail after the Tigers' top rusher from last season pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor battery charge in connection with a late-April fight outside a bar.

His legal problems are not over, though, and his college football future remains in doubt.

Hill, who was already on probation at the time of his most recent arrest, entered his latest plea in state district court in Baton Rouge and received a six-month suspended sentence and two years of probation. Afterward, District Attorney Hillar Moore said he would file a motion to revoke Hill's earlier probation, which he received following his January 2012 guilty plea to a misdemeanor stemming from his sexual relationship with a then-14-year-old girl at his high school.

Moore said it will be up to state District Judge Bonnie Jackson, who handled Hill's earlier case, to decide whether the running back should serve his first suspended six-month sentence, or remain on probation under conditions the judge sees fit and possibly return to the Tigers.

A hearing would likely be set for August, Moore said. Coach Les Miles, who suspended Hill after the bar fight, was not immediately available for comment.

Hill's attorney, Marci Blaize, said the goal of Friday's hearing was to allow Hill to remain enrolled at LSU, ``and we achieved that.'' She also sounded hopeful that Jackson would see Hill has accepted responsibility for his actions and agree to keep him on probation.

``I've represented people who are on felony probation who have committed some violation of their probation and have not had to go to jail,'' Blaize said. ``This could have possibly been resolved a little easier and a little timelier if we weren't dealing with somebody who wasn't in the national spotlight. ... Ordinarily, it's not this difficult to resolve a misdemeanor case without the lingering threat of jail time.''

Hill was arrested after a witness provided authorities with a mobile phone video showing Hill punching a man in the side of the head before a co-defendant, Robert Bayardo, threw another punch that knocked the man out. Moore entered the video into the public record, saying he did so because he thought it was important for the judge to weigh the question of whether Hill was in a fight or simply blindsided a victim who was not a threat.

``That video, to me, is tell-tale,'' Moore said. ``It's what you do when people are not looking, and in this case, these two individuals didn't think anyone was looking, but a camera was and I think that's something that's important for everyone to consider. ... When you take a look at the video and see how it occurred, it is serious in a lot of regards.''

Blaize, however, asserted, ``This was a bar fight. The 15 or 20 seconds of video where you can see Jeremy on it is certainly not indicative of the whole evening.''

Hill's arraignment in connection with the bar fight was heard by state District Judge Michael Erwin, who, at the victim's request, ordered Hill not to comment publicly about the case. When asked by Erwin if he understood the plea Blaize entered on his behalf, Hill said he did, and added, ``I apologize.''

Prosecutors said the victim, an LSU student, did not ask for jail time. He requested only that Hill and Bayardo share his $750 in medical expenses, not have any contact with him or his family and not comment publicly about the incident on social media or in any forum.

``He had some compassion, obviously,'' Moore said of the victim. ``He didn't want to stand in the way of (Hill's) future.''

The judge accepted those terms, handing Hill his latest suspended sentence and two years of probation, which now overlaps with his previous suspended sentence and initial two years of probation that expires in January. Bayardo, who said he did not know Hill, is not an LSU student and had no prior criminal record, received one-year of probation.

Holding his thumb and forefinger close together, the judge told Hill he was ``this close'' to ruining a promising football career. The judge reminded Hill of the fate of Cecil Collins, who he called one of the ``greatest'' and ``dumbest'' LSU running backs of all time. Collins played in the NFL for Miami, but his once-promising career was ruined by trouble with the law and more than 13 years of prison time.

In May, Jackson placed more restrictive conditions on Hills' initial probation, including a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and a ban from bars. Erwin said those conditions will remain but that he will give Hill the flexibility to stay out later than 9 p.m. when his football schedule demands it, should he be reinstated.

The judge also ordered Hill to undergo anger management counseling and perform 50 hours of community service.

Hill rushed for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, his freshman season. Hill got increased playing time after season-opening starter Alfred Blue went out with a season-ending knee injury in LSU's third game.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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