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Star NFL prospect facing criminal charges after car crash killed two; claims he will be ‘fully exonerated’

Jalen Carter (YouTube screenshot)

Jalen Carter (YouTube screenshot)

University of Georgia star football player Jalen Carter — a projected top pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft — has been criminally charged in the January car crash that left one of his teammates and a recruiting staffer dead.

A warrant for Carter’s arrest was issued Wednesday on one count of reckless driving, and one count of racing, both misdemeanors, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department announced.

According to a press release, the fatal crash occurred in the 900 block of Barnett Shoals Road at 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 15 — hours after a parade celebrating the Bulldogs football program for capping off an undefeated season with their second straight NCAA national championship.

Police said that Chandler LeCroy, 24, a recruiting analyst for the Bulldogs, was driving a rented 2021 Ford Expedition while Carter was driving his 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk. Both drivers were allegedly “operating their vehicles in a manner consistent with racing” after they left the festivities in downtown Athens at 2:30 a.m.

Investigators say they have obtained evidence demonstrating that both vehicles “switched between lanes, drove in the center turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists, and drove at high rates of speed in an apparent attempt to outdistance each other.”

LeCroy’s Expedition was traveling at 104 mph shortly before crashing into two power poles and several trees. Police say that 20-year-old sophomore offensive lineman Devon Willock was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the wreck and was ejected from the vehicle and died.

LeCroy died at a hospital.

Offensive tackle Warren McClendon, 21, and recruiting staffer Tory Bowles, 26, were injured.

According to investigators, LeCroy’s blood alcohol content was .197, more than twice the legal limit to drive in Georgia.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, Carter’s name had not been mentioned by authorities in connection with the crash.

Carter responded to news of the arrest warrant on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, saying he was contacted by police Wednesday morning.

“Numerous media reports also have circulated this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of Janurary 15, 2023,” Carter wrote. “It is my intention to return to Athens to answer the misdemeanor charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.