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Seeking help

Colts' Muhammad in counseling after wife's death

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Posted: Saturday November 20, 1999 02:45 PM

  Muhammad is wanted for petty theft in Las Vegas and has two misdemeanor convictions in California. AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said rookie defensive back Steve Muhammad is undergoing evaluation and counseling to help him cope with charges he battered his wife just days before she died.

"It's a professional psychologist who looks into the situation and makes recommendations to the club on what should happen," Irsay told Indianapolis television station WISH.

Meanwhile, authorities continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding a Nov. 4 car crash that's being blamed for Nichole Muhammad's death three days later, Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman said.

Newman is pursuing three counts of misdemeanor battery against Muhammad, stemming from an Oct. 28 incident at the couple's Indianapolis apartment.

Muhammad is free on $30,000 bond and is scheduled for a Dec. 21 hearing. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $5,000.

Mrs. Muhammad, who was five months' pregnant, had reported her husband twisted her right wrist behind her back, pushed her against a wall and threw her to the floor during an argument.

She said Muhammad also struck her son -- his stepson, Eric -- after the 6-year-old boy tried to defend his mother with a plastic baseball bat.

An autopsy indicated injuries from the crash, and not the alleged assault, forced her to deliver the couple's baby prematurely on Nov. 7, leading to her death seven hours later. The child was stillborn.

Mrs. Muhammad was out looking for her husband early on Nov. 4 when she hit a pole while making a U-turn near a hotel, Newman said. No police report was filed, and Mrs. Muhammad did not seek medical help.

The day before, she had canceled a scheduled meeting with authorities to discuss taking out a protective order against her husband.

Newman said Muhammad, who changed his name from Steve Wilson in 1996, is wanted for petty theft in Las Vegas and has two misdemeanor convictions in California. He said investigators have uncovered other allegations of abuse involving Muhammad and his wife.

"We believe the evidence would show that this was not an isolated incident," he said.

The Colts have supported Muhammad since his wife's death and say they'll welcome him when he's ready to come back to practice. Coach Jim Mora said Wednesday the rookie was dealing with personal matters and spending time with his family in California, his home state.

Colts spokesman Craig Kelley refused Friday to make Irsay available for an interview with The Associated Press and said the team would have no further comment.

Calls Friday to Muhammad's agent in California were not returned.

Muhammad, 26, signed with the Colts in February as a free agent after a season with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. He was the CFL defensive player of the year and led the league with 10 interceptions.

He played in the Colts' first seven games, with one start, and totaled six tackles on defense and six on special teams.

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