A grand jury probing the alleged involvement of suspended LSU football players Jordan Jefferson and Joshua Johns in an Aug. 19 fight outside a bar heard testimony Wednesday from police, bar employees and other eyewitnesses along with several people injured in the brawl.
Grand jurors, however, did not hear from Jefferson, a senior quarterback, or Johns, a sophomore linebacker, both of whom were arrested Aug. 26 and booked on one count each of second-degree battery, a felony.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said at the conclusion of Wednesday’s seven-hour grand jury session that both players have been invited to testify.
Moore — flanked by First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns and fellow prosecutors Barry Fontenot and Steve Danielson on the steps of City Hall — said the 12-member grand jury will reconvene Wednesday and resolve the matter “one way or the other.’’
“They (Jefferson and Johns) are welcome to come to the grand jury next Wednesday,’’ Moore said.
The East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury meets on the 10th floor of City Hall.
Jefferson’s attorney, Lewis Unglesby, said in a telephone interview that Jefferson will gladly testify before the panel.
“Jordan Jefferson has talked to police and LSU coaches,” Unglesby said. “He will talk to anybody who will talk to him.”
Johns’ attorney, Tommy Damico, appeared at City Hall without Johns and said a decision has not been made on whether to accept Moore’s invitation for Johns to testify.
“We’re going to wait and see what happens today,’’ Damico said. “Quite frankly he has nothing to hide. With regard to my client, I believe there’s no case at all.’’
Jefferson and Johns, both 21, have told police they were at Shady’s, a bar on East Boyd Drive south of the LSU campus, that night but denied involvement in the fight, according to affidavits of probable cause for the search warrants of the players’ homes.
Police searched Jefferson’s and Johns’ homes last month, taking shoes and DNA samples from each.
Michael Bienvenu, who represents four people injured in the fight outside Shady’s said three of his clients testified Wednesday, including Andrew Lowery, who suffered a fractured jaw and was kicked unconscious.
“The grand jury’s going to have to decide who’s telling the truth,’’ Bienvenu said, adding that at least 15 or 16 people testified before the grand jury.
Shady’s general manager John Peak was seen walking into City Hall on Wednesday. He did not speak with reporters while entering the building.
Peak, who interviewed his staff about what happened Aug. 19, told The Associated Press last month that Lowery — who was kicked out of the bar — threw the first punch in the parking lot.
Lowery has told police officers that Jefferson and Johns were among a group of people who attacked him.
“It is the eyewitnesses who have said that,’’ Bienvenu said of the allegation that Jefferson kicked Lowery in the head. “He (Lowery) was on the ground. He could not identify who kicked him.’’
Bienvenu added that taking the case to a grand jury is “an appropriate procedural path.’’
Unglesby doesn’t agree.
“This (grand jury) is very unusual,’’ he said. “You never have a grand jury for a fight.’’
Moore said “this is the best way to cut to the chase.’’
Unglesby added that Jefferson is “being penalized for what he’s been arrested for, not for what he did.’’
Baton Rouge police detective John Dauthier was one of the first witnesses to testify before the grand jury.
Dauthier declined comment while leaving City Hall but confirmed that he appeared before the panel.
Jefferson, Johns, freshman wide receiver Jarvis Landry and sophomore offensive lineman Chris Davenport went to State Police headquarters Aug. 23 to speak to Baton Rouge police about the incident.
Only Jefferson and Johns have been arrested in the case.
Moore has said results of DNA taken from Jefferson and Johns were inconclusive.
“It doesn’t prove or disprove anything,’’ Bienvenu cautioned.
Bienvenu said he anticipates filing a civil lawsuit “at some point.’’
Police have said the fight started when a man in a truck blew the horn to try to clear a crowd in the bar’s parking lot. Some witnesses have said the fight was already in progress when the truck approached the crowd.
Advocate staff writer Kimberly Vetter contributed to this report.
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