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Trial date set for Florida DE Harris

Posted: Monday August 18, 2003 5:49PM; Updated: Monday August 18, 2003 5:56PM
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A trial date of Oct. 13 was set Monday for Florida defensive end Steven Harris, who has pleaded innocent to felony battery.

Harris appeared before District Judge Larry Turner in Alachua County court along with his lawyer, Robert Rush.

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The battery charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, but Rush said the charges were too severe.

"This is not a felony," Rush said. "It should be a misdemeanor at most."

Harris was arrested in April outside a Gainesville nightclub the night after Florida's spring game. According to an arrest report, Harris knocked Brian Assent, 22, to the ground, rendering him unconscious. Then, along with teammate Channing Crowder, Harris punched and kicked Assent while he was on the ground, knocking out a tooth, loosening five others and leaving him with a cut on his face that required 11 stitches, the arrest report said.

Assent identified Harris and Crowder in a photo lineup. Crowder pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge in June. Harris entered a written plea of innocent in June.

Rush said Harris might have been misidentified because a number of large, black people wearing white T-shirts were at the nightclub parking lot. Rush said as many as 200 people were present and multiple altercations were taking place.

Poor lighting in the parking lot might have led the eyewitnesses to misidentify Harris, Rush said.

Harris, 6-5 and 240 pounds, is still on the Florida roster, but he has not been allowed to practice this preseason.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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