OPELIKA, Ala. -- Four former Auburn football players accused of robbery, burglary and theft had their cases bound over to a Lee County grand jury after a closed-door hearing on Wednesday.
Mike McNeil, 22; Antonio Goodwin, 20; and Dakota Mosley and Shaun Kitchens, both 19, are accused in connection with a robbery at a mobile home park south of campus on March 11. All four gave statements to police “admitting involvement in the robbery,” court records state.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik permanently dismissed all four of the players from the football team later on the day of their arrest, saying he was “disappointed and embarrassed by the actions of these individuals.”
The preliminary hearing was to have been open, though Mosley’s attorney, Davis Whittlesey, requested a closed-door hearing because three of the men are eligible for youthful offender status, said District Court Judge Stephen Speakman.
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“We’re going to close the hearing,” the judge said.
All but Goodwin appeared for the hearing. Goodwin waived his appearance and his case was automatically bound over to Circuit Court.
When youthful offender status is granted, a conviction doesn’t appear as such on a defendant’s record. A conviction under the youthful offender statute means a judge wouldn’t use it to determine sentences for future offenses. Those with the status don’t have to claim a conviction when filling out job applications.
A defendant must be younger than 21 to be eligible for the status.
Speakman heard testimony during the hearing and found probable cause to bind McNeil, Mosley and Kitchens’ cases over to Circuit Court, where it’s expected a grand jury will choose whether to indict. The next Lee County grand jury meets in May.
The hearing lasted about two hours. Afterward, the defendants exited by a side door. Defense attorneys declined to comment about the hearing, as did District Attorney Robbie Treese.
According to affidavits and witnesses, McNeil, Goodwin and Kitchens forcibly entered a residence in the Conway Acres Trailer Park off Wire Road early March 11, being let in after knocking. The victims said they were threatened with multiple handguns and ordered to turn over their property.
Police said the three players exited the residence with two cell phones and a handheld safe from one of the bedrooms.
The property was recovered after police pulled over a light-colored vehicle allegedly driven by Mosley that matched the description given by a witness. All four of the players were in the car.
The affidavit said Goodwin was in possession of one of the stolen cell phones. A previous police statement said a pistol was also recovered.
The documents also said the victims positively identified McNeil, Goodwin and Kitchens.
McNeil, a safety who would have been a senior, was the only starter of the group. Kitchens and Goodwin, both wide receivers, and Mosley, a tight end, were freshmen last season after signing with the Tigers in February of 2010.