The Delaware Supreme Court last week upheld the conviction of a former University of Delaware football player who knocked a teammate unconscious during a locker-room disagreement.
Jerel Harrison, once a star wide-receiver for the Blue Hens, argued that a Superior Court judge did not properly consider his claim of self-defense.
The court, however, rejected that claim and allowed his second-degree assault conviction and six-month prison sentence stand.
The case traces back to Aug. 13, 2015, when the Blue Hens were in preseason training camp.
The victim, defensive back Malcolm Brown, testified that the incident began when he broke up a pass intended for Harrison. However, Harrison claimed Brown grabbed his face mask — an illegal move in football — while making a tackle.
After practice, the two men argued in the locker room, and Harrison struck Brown in the head with his helmet. The force of the impact knocked Brown down and caused him to briefly lose consciousness.
Brown suffered a concussion, a cut to his lip and a fractured jaw. Doctors inserted two titanium plates and eight screws into his jaw, rendering him unable to eat solid food for two months. Now a redshirt junior and starting player for the Hens, Brown missed the entire 2015 football season.
Harrison, then a senior, was immediately arrested, kicked off the team and banned from campus. He was later found guilty after a four-day bench trial.
In court, he claimed Brown hit him in the head first and he retaliated in self-defense. However, at least two other teammates testified to the contrary.
Harrison’s medical records indicated that he told prison medical staff he “fell while fighting” and later claimed he fell while playing sports. The medical staff found no evidence of injuries to Harrison’s head.