LARAMIE (AP) — Luke Martinez, a Wyoming basketball player accused of kicking an unconscious man in the face during a bar fight, was not the aggressor in the confrontation, his attorney said Wednesday.
“Luke’s a victim here,” attorney Thomas Fleener said after Martinez pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated assault and battery. “He’s lost his college basketball career. He wasn’t the aggressor that night. This was a bar fight in a college town. No weapons were used, and while the injuries are certainly unfortunate, Luke’s the one who’s truly suffering today.”
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Martinez, of Bismarck, N.D., is suspended from the team but remains enrolled at UW. In brief comments to reporters after the hearing, Martinez said it has been hard not being able to play.
“Just hoping for the best and just keep praying,” he said.
State District Judge Jeffrey Donnell granted a request by Fleener to loosen the bail restrictions so Martinez can travel home during spring break, March 18-24.
Donnell also scheduled a trial for Aug. 26-28. Martinez, a senior guard, is accused of kicking a man who had been knocked unconscious by another UW basketball player on Dec. 30 outside a Laramie bar, according to a police affidavit. During the fight, the man Martinez is accused of kicking suffered a fractured jaw, while Martinez fractured a bone in his right shooting hand. Fleener said the perception from reports on the case so far have painted Martinez as the aggressor.
“The evidence, when it does come out, will show that he was retreating and that he was not the aggressor at all,” Fleener said.
Before the incident, Martinez was leading UW in scoring, averaging 14.5 points a game, and the Cowboys were off to a 12-0 record to start the season.
Without Martinez, UW won its next game to set a school record for victories to begin a season but went 5-12 including a season-ending loss to Colorado State.