Plea deal deadline extended for Wheaton College football players

  • Five former Wheaton College football players were charged in connection with a 2016 hazing case. They are, top row, James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel and Ben Pettway and, bottom row, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos. Spielman has since pleaded guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor battery and a similar plea deal has been offered to the others.

    Five former Wheaton College football players were charged in connection with a 2016 hazing case. They are, top row, James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel and Ben Pettway and, bottom row, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos. Spielman has since pleaded guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor battery and a similar plea deal has been offered to the others.

 
 
Updated 5/30/2018 2:02 PM

The looming Thursday deadline for three of five former Wheaton College football players to accept plea deals in connection with a 2016 hazing has been extended until June 5.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that their plea offers to Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway and Samuel TeBos will expire Tuesday morning, after which they will have to take their chances at trial. The deal also was offered to James Cooksey, who earlier this month declared his intent to have a bench trial on July 10.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cooksey's attorney, Michael Fleming, said Wednesday that he still expects his client to go to trial, but isn't sure it will be on July 10.

Prosecutors declined to reveal details of the possible plea deals, but the offers are believed to be similar to the one another former player, Noah Spielman, took in March when he pleaded guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor battery and received one year of conditional discharge and 100 hours of community service.

The remaining players face felony charges of aggravated battery, unlawful restraint and mob action.

Attorneys for some of the remaining players say their clients are leaning toward taking the deal, but have not made a final decision.

The men are accused of abducting teammate Charles Nagy, now 21, from his dorm on March 19, 2016, putting a pillowcase over his head, tying him with duct tape, placing him into a pickup truck and driving him to a baseball field near Hawthorne Elementary School in Wheaton.

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Prosecutors said the defendants are accused of repeatedly punching and kicking Nagy, kicking dirt on him and then leaving him partially nude on the field.

Authorities say Nagy suffered two torn labra as a result of being bound with duct tape, but defense attorneys have been studying his medical records to determine whether he had pre-existing issues.

The four remaining players are next due in court Tuesday, when Judge Brian Telander also is expected to rule on a motion to allow extended media coverage of Cooksey's trial.

In October, Telander denied a request from multiple news agencies to allow one still photographer and one videographer into the players' arraignment. At that time, Telander said he would consider any future extended media requests should any of the cases go to trial.

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