Friday, August 10, 2007

Northern Colorado Kicker Convicted of Stabbing Teammate

The Weekend's Frat Boy News Daily Sports Page

University of Northern Colorado (compiled by Keith Coffman, Reuters)

A former University of Northern Colorado backup football player was convicted of assault on Thursday for stabbing his rival to win a starting kicking position on the team but was cleared of attempted murder charges.

A jury in Greeley, Colorado, about 60 miles northeast of Denver, found Mitchell Cozad, 22, guilty of second-degree assault for the September 2005 attack on teammate Rafael Mendoza, who suffered a 5-inch (13-cm) knife wound to his kicking leg.

Cozad, who didn't testify during the six-day trial, faces up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 2.

In trying to prove the attempted first-degree murder charge, prosecutors said that jealousy drove Cozad to try and kill Mendoza after he was beaten out for the starting punting job at the school, which competes in the Big Sky conference.

"He (Cozad) set off to do off the field what he couldn't do on the field," prosecutor Michele Meyer told jurors in closing arguments.

Mendoza, who has since recovered, testified that a man clad in black clothing, whom he could not identify, ambushed him in his apartment complex parking lot near the campus. Mendoza said he was hit in the head by his attacker who tried to slash his throat, but managed only to stab him in the leg during the scuffle.

A witness who came to Mendoza's aid told police he saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt jump into a dark Dodge Charger and speed from the scene.

Cozad was arrested after employees at nearby a liquor store saw two men in the store's parking lot remove tape from the Charger's license plate, and reported the tag number to police, who traced the vehicle to Cozad.


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