CHRISTIANSBURG — Virginia Tech running back Michael Holmes was found guilty Thursday of a reduced charge of assault and battery, a misdemeanor, nearly two months after his arrest following a fight near downtown Blacksburg.
Holmes, who has been on an indefinite suspension from the football team since his arrest on a count of malicious wounding and two counts of simple assault, was sentenced to a 12-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay restitution to one of the victims totaling $13,403.
If Holmes fails to make the payments within a year, he will have to serve some or all of that jail sentence. Montgomery County District Court judge Gino Williams also ruled that he have no contact with the victims.
The simple assault charges against Holmes and assault and battery charges against three others involved in the fight April 21 were dropped by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt.
“I wish none of it would have happened,” said Holmes, who spent two days in jail following the incident and was free on a $2,500 secured bond. “I think I defended myself, but I did too much. I have to suffer the consequences. I have to pay for my actions.”
“I think it’s reasonable,” said Jimmy Turk, Holmes’ lawyer. “I hate that he’s convicted of anything. I think he was defending himself.”
Holmes, who just turned 20 and would be a redshirt sophomore, said he hopes to be allowed back on the football team, where he finished the spring as a player in the mix for carries at tailback.
With the felony charge resolved, that’s a possibility. Any reinstatement decision would be made by Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver, who could not be reached for comment.
“If I can’t come back, I’ll try to move on to what’s next,” Holmes said.
Not everyone was pleased with the verdict, however, especially Richard Barnes, the father of Kierra Barnes and uncle of Antoine Barnes, who were involved in the incident.
“I don’t think he should ever be allowed to play football again,” said Richard Barnes, who claims Holmes punched his daughter in the face, an allegation Holmes denies. “He should have gotten more. He’s a danger to society. He’s done it once. He’ll do it again.”
In a press release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Pettitt said an independent witness provided details to clear up differing versions of what occurred in a downtown Blacksburg parking lot in the early morning hours of April 21, not long after Virginia Tech’s spring game.
The witness said a group including Holmes and his girlfriend Karoline Seekford were being followed by a group that included Holmes’ former girlfriend and Virginia Tech track athlete Ciara Simms, 20, and Kierra Barnes, 20.
After seeing Barnes argue with Holmes, the witness saw Simms strike Seekford. A fight ensued, with Barnes’ cousin, Antoine, joining in. According to the witness, Holmes hit Antoine Barnes and continued to strike him until he was on the ground.
Antoine Barnes suffered a broken cheekbone, bruised ribs and swollen eyes, which necessitated a trip to the hospital. The restitution payments to be made by Holmes in the next 12 months are to cover those hospital costs.
“Holmes was justified in coming to the defense of Seekford,” Pettitt wrote. “However he exceeded his right to come to her defense when he continued to hit Barnes after he was no longer attacking anyone.”
Assault and battery charges against Seekford, Simms and Kierra Barnes were dropped.
After the verdict, Kierra Barnes presented pictures to reporters of her and Antoine in the hospital with injuries. She said she has a broken nose that will require surgery next month and has filed a $25,000 civil suit against Holmes that will be heard in July.
She said Holmes hit her in the face. Holmes denies ever hitting either of the girls involved in the fight.
“It was a scruffle,” Holmes said. “It was kind of a blur, hard to tell how people got hurt.”