Friday, July 06, 2001

Ex-Bengal out of prison

Appeals court reverses marijuana possession conviction

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The conviction of ex-Bengal Talib “Ty” Douthard on marijuana possession charges has been reversed, and he was released this week after spending a little more than a year in the London Correctional Institution.

        He had been sentenced to three years.

        The 28-year-old now hopes to resume his pro football career, his agent said Thursday.

        Mr. Douthard was released after an appeals court reversed his conviction and blocked further prosecution.

        The 11-page decision was critical of Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Steve Martin's decision to deny Mr. Douthard's motion to dismiss the marijuana indictment on claims of double jeopardy.

        Mr. Douthard was charged with possessing 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana police found in the refrigerator of his Evanston home in 1999. The defense contended that the drugs belonged to someone else, but Mr. Douthard's fingerprints were found on the bag.

        During his initial trial, Mr. Douthard's defense attorney twice spoke in front of jurors about the possibility of incarceration. The judge ruled the talk of possible prison time affected the jury's impartiality and declared a mistrial. A new jury was seated to hear the case.

        In overturning the conviction, the appeals court stated that the first jury was “not informed of the sentence that could have been imposed upon Douthard if he had been convicted. Further, the jury was not encouraged to acquit Douthard based on any punishment that might be imposed.”

        It also contended that the judge did not consider other options before declaring a mistrial.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said Thursday that his office is considering whether to appeal.

        Mr. Douthard, a LaSalle High School graduate, has returned to Cincinnati and his family, said Richard Katz, his agent, lawyer and friend.

        “He's trying to get on with his life,” Mr. Katz said. “His dreams are to return to professional football. ... We've talked about it, and he knows it's going to take some work.”

        Mr. Douthard was drafted by the Bengals after graduating from the University of Illinois. He played for two seasons but was released from the team in 1998.


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