DALLAS (AP) — An attorney for former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel calls the indictment against him “incredible” and said Tuesday that way it’s been handled so far suggests there are problems with the case.
Manziel was indicted Tuesday on allegations by ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley that he hit her and threatened to kill her in late January. Crowley said in court documents that Manziel struck her so hard that she temporarily lost hearing in one ear, and the indictment accuses him “forcing (her) into a vehicle and against a vehicle dashboard.”
Manziel faces a charge of misdemeanor assault related to family violence, which carries up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Manziel’s attorneys said Tuesday that their client will plead not guilty.
One of the attorneys, Robert Hinton, told The Associated Press that he thought police and prosecutors had treated the case as though they didn’t want it to go forward. Lawyers who aren’t involved in the case have noted that Dallas police chose to refer their case to a grand jury rather than arrest Manziel outright, which is unusual for misdemeanor cases.
“If this were Johnny Smith, the district attorney’s office would have declined to accept the case, in my judgment,” Hinton said in a phone interview Tuesday. “This is not a very credible case. As a matter of fact, it’s incredible. There’s just not much to it.”
Hinton said he did not anticipate making a deal to end the case before trial, though he said talks of any deal were premature.
Manziel is in Los Angeles, but is expected to present himself for booking Thursday or Friday, once the case is formally assigned to a judge and bond is set, Hinton said.
“He’s got a great attitude,” he said. “He’s ready to face it and do what we need to do to defend him.”
Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk said in a statement Tuesday that prosecutors “respect the criminal justice process and the decision” by the grand jury. A spokeswoman for Hawk declined to comment further.
Crowley has already been granted a protective order that requires Manziel to not see her for two years, stay at least 500 feet from her home and place of work and pay $12,000 in legal fees.
Manziel was cut by the Browns in March after two tumultuous seasons marked by inconsistent play and off-the-field headlines about his partying and drinking, including one stint in rehab. His future in the NFL is uncertain at best, and might be nonexistent without a second stint in treatment that two agents have demanded. The league also has tougher standards regarding domestic violence cases after revising its policy in August 2014 following the Ray Rice case, which could complicate any attempt by Manziel to return.
The allegations stem from a night out on Jan. 30. Crowley alleged Manziel accosted her at a Dallas hotel, a confrontation that eventually continued downstairs to the valet station. She said he forced her into a car and a valet disregarded her pleas for help.
The two eventually drove to where her car was parked in front of a Dallas bar, she said in an affidavit. She said Manziel got into the driver’s seat and began to drive. Crowley said Manziel stopped when she tried to jump out of the car, but then he dragged her back inside and hit her.
She also said Manziel threatened to kill himself as he drove her back to Fort Worth, about 30 miles west of Dallas, where police were called.
In the wake of the allegations, Manziel’s father said the family had made two recent, unsuccessful attempts to get him into a rehab clinic. Manziel — who entered the NFL with a reputation for partying and drinking — spent 73 days last winter in a Pennsylvania treatment center specializing in care for alcohol and drug dependency.
Manziel’s second agent, Drew Rosenhaus, dropped Manziel last week. His marketing agency dropped him before the charges were filed, and Nike confirmed last week that it no longer has an endorsement deal with Manziel.