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The trial of Marcus and Markieff Morris continues Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona: 1:30 p.m. Eastern (10:30 a.m. Phoenix time). Prosecutors say the twins, both professional basketball players, beat up 36-year-old Erik Hood outside a recreation center on Jan. 24, 2015.
The defendants were friends with the alleged victim for years, but police say they had a falling out over text messages Hood sent to the twins’ mother. This feud culminated in the alleged 2015 attack. Hood told cops he was talking to a friend of the Morris brothers when he was attacked from behind. The twins and three other men punched and kicked him as he tried to escape, Hood said. Investigators claim the alleged assailants escaped in a Rolls Royce, while Hood said he sustained broken nose and bruises to the head. The other three alleged attackers were also charged. Two pleaded guilty last week, and the third man Gerald Bowman stands trial with the brothers.
Prosecutor Dan Fisher said in Monday’s opening statements that this was an “orchestrated attack,” and pointed at the text message as the motive. The defense team questioned witness accounts and Hood’s motives. Timothy Eckstein, Marcus’ attorney, said witness statements are “entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the truth.” The defense claims Hood pinned the attack on the Morris brothers since they were rich, and thought he could make money off the allegation. Eckstein blamed the attack on Julius Kane and Christopher Melendez, the men who pleaded guilty.
Hood took the stand on Monday. He said the attack started when he was punched in the back of the head, and he testified that all five men, including the twins, played a role in the assault. Hood said he and the Morris brothers had been friends since high school, but had a falling out in 2011 when he texted their mother, saying he would always be there for her. He claimed that Kane misinterpreted this to be romantic, and told the twins about it.
The twins are facing two counts each of aggravated assault. If convicted, they’d be suspended for at least 10 games under NBA policy because this is a violent felony. Marcus Morris joined the Boston Celtics this off-season, and Markieff Morris is a forward for the Washington Wizards. Missing games is the least of their worries, though: they also face up to four years in prison.
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