Jefferson, Johns cleared in felonies

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted suspended LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery Wednesday but declined to press any charges against teammate Joshua Johns in an Aug. 19 fight outside a bar.

In Louisiana, a simple battery conviction carries up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, but Jefferson attorney Lewis Unglesby predicted the senior will prove his innocence.

“I don’t think Jordan should have been indicted. I think they’re wrong. Jordan will never be convicted,’’ Unglesby told a throng of reporters just outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse, where the grand jury returned its indictment after hearing testimony across the street for a second straight Wednesday.

LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday night that both players have been reinstated to the team and were “welcome” back.

Both players will be back at practice Thursday.

LSU is 4-0 on the season and ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

Jefferson testified Wednesday before the grand jury, as did Johns.

Offensive tackle Evan Washington, defensive end Lavar Edwards and safety Derrick Bryant also appeared before the grand jury.

Johns’ attorney, Tommy Damico, said the sophomore linebacker testified for an hour.

“We’re very pleased. We never doubted it was a case of misidentification. It’s over for Josh,’’ Damico said.

Jefferson and Johns were arrested Aug. 26 and booked on one count each of second-degree battery, a felony.

“I think it’s unfortunate the arrest was made before the investigation was complete,’’ Damico added. “The police made a mistake in arresting my client.’’

Damico said he has no plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The grand jury refused to indict Jefferson and Johns for second-degree battery, and also declined to indict Johns on a simple battery count.

The grand jury, though, did accuse Jefferson of simple battery on Andrew Lowery.

The grand jury’s findings were announced in open court by 19th JDC Commissioner John Smart while the 10 grand jurors — seven women and three men — looked on.

Lowery, who testified before the grand jury last week, has told police officers that Jefferson and Johns were among a group of people who attacked him outside Shady’s, a bar on East Boyd Drive south of the LSU campus.

Lowery’s attorney, Michael Bienvenu, has said Lowery suffered a fractured jaw and was kicked unconscious.

Jefferson and Johns, both 21, have told police they were at Shady’s that night but denied involvement in the fight, according to affidavits of probable cause for the search warrants of the players’ homes.

Unglesby said Jefferson would have been offered pretrial diversion if his name had been “Jordan Jones.’’

“But we’re not named Jordan Jones,’’ he said. “This was all about Jordan Jefferson, start to finish.’’

Burns defended the decision of the District Attorney’s Office to take the case to a grand jury, saying it was “the only course in this case’’ and adding that the office would have been “grossly criticized’’ if it had done otherwise.

Burns said the grand jury saw some video evidence in the case but would not comment on what that evidence showed. She also declined to reveal how long the grand jurors deliberated.

Burns noted that, in the case of a simple battery conviction, a judge can suspend any jail time and fine. A judge can consider a defendant’s educational status and lack of a criminal record.

Police searched Jefferson’s and Johns’ homes last month, taking shoes and DNA samples from each.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III, who had hip replacement surgery Monday and did not attend Wednesday’s grand jury session, has said results of DNA taken from Jefferson and Johns were inconclusive.

Bienvenu, who represents three other people injured in the brawl, has said he anticipates filing a civil suit.

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, however, have said the fight was already in progress when the truck approached the crowd.