CHRISTIANSBURG — Suspended Virginia Tech place-kicker Cody Journell was found guilty of a lesser charge of misdemeanor trespassing in relation to an incident from December, potentially paving the way for his to return to the football team.
Journell, who was originally charged Dec. 22 with a felony of breaking and entering, pleaded not guilty in Montgomery County District Court on Monday but stipulated that the facts were considerable enough to result in a conviction to an amended misdemeanor charge.
He’ll do 100 hours of community service and received 12-months probation. He was credited with 10 days of served jail time, with the remainder of the year’s sentence suspended, provided he adheres to the terms of the deal.
“Cody was at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people,” Journell’s lawyer Jimmy Turk said. “He’s happy to have it behind him.”
Journell’s status with the football team remains unresolved. He declined comment after the hearing but said that he will likely meet with athletic department officials in the next week. He was allowed to remain in school since the incident but was suspended from the team indefinitely, per university policy, until the felony charge was somehow resolved.
Turk, who has represented many Virginia Tech athletes in the past, was optimistic Journell would be reinstated to the team.
“I absolutely hope so and I would think that would be the call,” he said.
Journell,20, and two others, Matthew Dunton, 23, and Matthew Brady, 21, were charged with breaking and entering on Dec. 22 after the commonwealth’s attorney said they entered the home of then-Virginia Tech basketball player Dorenzo Hudson and Hudson’s roommate, Sean Allen, looking to retrieve marijuana they say was stolen. Hudson was there; Allen was not.
Previous court testimony established that Dunton removed an air gun from a pizza box during the incident, which lasted about five to seven minutes.
Dunton also agreed to a plea deal Monday and was found guilty of brandishing an object similar in appearance to a firearm. Like Journell, he received a year’s suspended sentence, 100 hours of community service and 12 months of probation.
Neither Journell nor Dunton are to have any contact with Hudson.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen said the reduced deal was offered because the gun was determined not to be real and therefore was not a deadly weapon, and because Hudson wished to put the incident behind him as he pursued a professional basketball career, possibly overseas.
“A real gun versus a little toy is a huge consideration,” Turk said.
Brady was offered a similar deal as Journell and Dunton but did not accept it, leading to an occasionally contentious preliminary hearing Monday afternoon that resulted in Judge Gino Williams deciding there is probable cause for a grand jury to consider Brady’s case.
He remains charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit assault, something Jensen said should go to the July term of the grand jury.
Jensen and Brady’s defense attorney, Thomas K. Plofchan Jr. of Loudoun County, offered different versions of what happened that night.
Hudson testified that he was awoken by Dunton knocking on his door while Journell and Brady stood off to the side. After Hudson answered the door, Dunton removed the air gun from a pizza box and began waving it around as the three entered the house.
Hudson said Journell raced upstairs looking for someone as Brady, who did most of the talking, kept saying, “Where is he? Where is he?” Hudson, who said he was nervous because a gun was in his face, responded that he didn’t know who they were talking about.
Plofchan argued that Brady never entered the house and didn’t have knowledge that Dunton had a gun, calling into question Hudson’s recollection of the evening’s events and his identification of the suspects.
Brady, who took the stand, said he and Journell went with Dunton as support for what he said was going to be a “discussion.” He said he had no knowledge Dunton had a gun and that it was Dunton who entered the house while he and Journell waited outside.
Brady testified that Hudson said, “I know where you live and we can settle this.” Dunton, Journell and Brady then left Hudson’s apartment in a car driven by their friend, John Deacon, who was not charged with a crime.
Testimony from December revealed that Hudson and Allen went searching for Brady and Dunton once the trio left, resulting in a physical altercation in front of Brady and Dunton’s apartment before police arrived. Hudson and Allen were also never charged with a crime.
Pfolchan asked Hudson Monday how he knew where Brady and Dunton lived. Hudson said their Lee Street address was on the pizza box Dunton used to conceal the gun.
Pfolchan then told Hudson, “You are not telling the truth are you?
“I am telling the truth,” Hudson replied.
In testimony Monday, it was revealed that Brady is suing Hudson for $125,000 in civil court for assault.
The defense argued bias against Hudson’s testimony about Brady because of this fact, while the commonwealth’s attorney countered that the lawsuit was filed after Brady was arrested and therefore Hudson could have shown no bias in identifying him as one of the suspects.