Jury begins deliberations in concert assault case

A jury will resume deliberations Thursday in the trial of a 20-year-old Plano man accused of sucker-punching a UCLA tennis player, resulting in a brain injury two years ago.

The jury of eight women and four men began deliberations about 2 p.m. Wednesday and stopped about 4:30 p.m.

Chancellor Jay Hutcheson is charged with second-degree felony aggravated assault and faces up to 20 years in prison. But because he doesn’t have a prior felony conviction, Hutcheson is eligible for probation.

Hutcheson is accused of hitting 22-year-old Jeffrey Fleming at Fair Park after a Rascal Flatts concert on June 13, 2009. Fleming fell to the ground, slamming his head against the pavement.

J.T. Thomas, who was with Hutcheson the night of the concert, testified that Hutcheson punched Fleming during a confrontation between both of their groups of friends.

The defense argues that Hutcheson acted in self-defense, while the prosecution told jurors that he made a clear choice to strike Fleming.

Thomas, 20, said Hutcheson punched Fleming in self-defense.
“I saw [Fleming] throw a big round-house hook” toward Hutcheson, Thomas said. “And then Chance hit him.”

But during cross-examination, prosecutor Justin Lord said that during an interview with Dallas police, Thomas said Fleming could have hit either Hutcheson or his friend Keaton Standridge.

“Which one is it?” Lord asked of his swing.

“It had the potential to hit either one of them,” Thomas said and later added, “Chance would have gotten hit first.”

Clara Davis, who worked as a security officer at the Superpages.com Center the night of the incident, also testified. She recalled speaking to a girl who told her that Fleming had drunk about 12 beers that night.

During Tuesday’s testimony, one of Hutcheson’s defense attorneys, David Finn, presented a report showing that Fleming’s blood-alcohol level the night he was hospitalized was .214 — almost three times the legal limit.

“It’s clear that [Fleming] was extremely intoxicated,” Finn said during closing arguments. He said Fleming’s behavior made it so Hutcheson had no choice but to act.

By LAURA C. MOREL
Staff Writer
Dallas Morning News
Published: 13 July 2011 11:33 AM

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