Gerald Evelyn, Daniel Horton’s attorney, spoke for the first time publicly yesterday about his client’s misdemeanor domestic assault charge and said that the Michigan point guard’s case is “thoroughly defensible.”
“Some cases, you don’t have much of a defense,” Evelyn said. “That is not the case in this situation.”
Horton’s scheduled preliminary hearing yesterday was postponed until Feb. 14. Evelyn said multiple pre-trial hearings are typical of high-profile criminal cases.
Horton pleaded not guilty on Jan. 24 to misdemeanor domestic assault charges stemming from an incident on Dec. 10, in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend into unconsciousness.
Evelyn said “it is entirely possible” for Horton’s case to go to trial and also commented on the junior’s current indefinite suspension from the basketball team.
“I don’t like it — I’ll tell you that, and I think it’s certainly inconsistent with the presumption of innocence,” Evelyn said of the suspension. “But the University has the right to do what they want to do. They are not bound by the same rules that the legal system is bound by.”
Evelyn said Horton is dealing with “collateral consequences” that nonstudent-athletes would not face.
“If this happened to you, your boss wouldn’t suspend you,” Evelyn said. “He has had the misfortune of being suspended because he is accused of something.”
Evelyn said he didn’t know any details regarding the University’s position on Horton.
“No one has told me anything about anything.” Evelyn said. “I don’t even know if the University has a position. If they do, then I am not aware of it.”
Coach Tommy Amaker announced on Jan. 25 that suspending Horton was the best course of action at this time.
“Given the seriousness and sensitivity of the situation, we feel it is in everyone’s best interest that we suspend Daniel pending further review,” he said.
Horton has been suspended since Jan. 24 and has missed Michigan’s past five games — all Michigan defeats. Evelyn said Horton wants to return to the basketball team this season.
“He is a tough, strong young man, but he is also very, very unhappy with the circumstance that he is in now,” Evelyn said. “He would like to be restored to full status as a basketball player at the University of Michigan.”
Evelyn said Horton is still very emotionally involved with the state of the team.
“He is concerned about how they do,” Evelyn said. “Those are his friends doing the best they can to beat Illinois and other schools. He is very concerned about his teammates and the things they have to deal with.”
Evelyn asked District Court Judge Ann Mattson to delay yesterday’s hearing in order to gather more information about the case.
Judge Mattson reaffirmed the court’s prior decision not to allow Horton to travel outside the state of Michigan unless he is playing basketball for the Wolverines. Mattson ordered that Horton have no direct or indirect contact with the victim.
Horton is currently suspended indefinitely from the Michigan basketball team. He is not allowed to attend basketball games or practice with the team.
Misdemeanor domestic assault charges carry a penalty of up to 93 days in prison and a $500 fine. Horton is free on $5,000 bond.
Horton, dressed in a black suit with a white and metallic patterned dress shirt, wore a Michigan basketball jacket over his suit. Horton appeared calm and collected throughout the hearing. Originally scheduled for 9 a.m., the hearing was delayed three-and-a-half hours because Evelyn was involved in a traffic accident on I-94 while traveling to the courthouse.
Evelyn exuded confidence in his ability as a trial lawyer. The Detroit-based attorney has represented several cases in the past that received significant media attention. Recently, Evelyn defended Rev. Luis Javier de Alba Campos of Detroit’s St. Gabriel Catholic Church in a highly publicized case. De Alba Campos was charged with two counts of criminal sexual misconduct involving a seven-year-old boy. The jury reached its verdict — not guilty — in 90 minutes.
Evelyn wouldn’t comment on details of his defense strategy for Monday’s second pre-trial hearing.
“A smart lawyer preserves all of his options,” Evelyn said, “and I am a very smart lawyer.”