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Judge Releases Fresno St. Players

March 19, 1998

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Fresno State center Avondre Jones and recruit Kenny Brunner weren’t behind bars long after their arrest on charges of assaulting and robbing an acquaintance.

Municipal Court Judge John Gallagher ordered their release without bail that day, even though Jones had prior weapons convictions.

District Attorney Ed Hunt thinks the players should still be in jail.

``I was blown away,″ he said. ``It surprised me that they were released so soon.″

Court records show Jones was convicted in 1993 and again in 1995 of carrying a loaded and concealed weapon. He remains on probation for the second conviction, a felony.

The arresting officer didn’t mention Jones’ criminal history and did not object to releasing the suspects, Gallagher said.

Officer Charles Renfro also told him the victim, Colin DeForrest, sustained ``no significant injuries″ other than welts, and he remained at Jones’ apartment watching television after Jones threatened him with a gun.

``It was not until the second incident _ with the sword sometime later _ that he got welts and decided to leave,″ the judge said Tuesday.

Gallagher did not return calls left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

It’s not the first time the judge has handled cases involving Fresno State basketball players. Last year, he reduced felony assault charges to misdemeanors in a case against Daymond Forney and Danyell Macklin. The players were put on probation and ordered to serve community service.

On Monday night, Jones and Brunner were drinking whiskey and watching television with DeForrest hours after the Bulldogs beat Memphis on a last-second 3-pointer in the NIT, police said.

Then, an argument broke out over a TV program, and Jones pulled out a gun and waved it in front of DeForrest’s face, authorities said. Both players then are accused of using samurai swords to beat and poke DeForrest.

When DeForrest tried to leave, Jones and Brunner stole cash and a camera from his backpack, police said. DeForrest drove home to Washington state Wednesday.

``He’s scared,″ Hunt said. ``We know where he is. We’re going to go see him in Washington.″

Jones and Brunner have denied the accusations.

``He’s absolutely innocent of everything,″ said Brunner’s attorney, Mike Karagozian. ``Kenny is going to be completely vindicated, exonerated, whatever you want to call it.″

Karagozian also said he wasn’t ``shopping around″ for a lenient judge when requesting the releases of both players.

``I could have gone to any judge, but it’s my practice to go and try to find the judge where the person is going to be arraigned at,″ Karagozian said.

He called Gallagher because he handles cases with defendants whose last name begins with letter J. Since Jones has more charges pending against him, Karagozian thought his name would be first on the complaint and the case would go to Gallagher.

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