A friend of the man accusing two former Phoenix Suns players of beating him in 2015 testified Thursday that she saw either Marcus or Markieff Morris, along with other men, beat the victim so badly that she had to take him to an emergency room.
“He was like in a daze,” Sherika Sherad testified, describing her friend’s condition after the attack. “He was slurring (his words) sometimes, I didn’t know what he was saying.”
Sherad, whose testimony started Wednesday and continued Thursday, told an 11-member jury that she called 911to report the Jan. 24, 2015, attack on Erik Hood.
The Morris brothers played for the Suns at the time. They are standing trial this week along with a third man in Maricopa County Superior Court on charges related to the attack on Hood.
Thomas Bailey, a Maricopa County prosecutor presenting the case, played the 911 call to the jury in which Sherad is heard saying men including the Morrises were in a fight with Hood.
Sherad made the call from her vehicle before she drove Hood to a hospital.
“I was scared, I was very frantic,” Sherad said Thursday. “It was just a lot.”
She said a man wearing a hoodie approached Hood and a man wearing a bandanna around his face attacked Hood. Once Hood got up, several men started chasing him, she said.
Sherad said she saw one of the Morris brothers attack Hood while the other held back a man who was approaching, presumably to break up the fight. She testified that she couldn’t tell who was doing the beating and who was holding the man back because they are identical twins.
She also said Hood, 39, later texted to ask if she could help him find a lawyer.
She suggested that Hood hire high-profile lawyer Mark Geragos, who has represented celebrities such as singer Chris Brown.
Other defendants in the case
The Morris brothers and former University of Southern California football safety Gerald Bowman each are charged with two counts of aggravated assault.
The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from the Detroit Pistons this summer, and Markieff Morris now is a power forward for the Washington Wizards.
Two other defendants in the case, Julius Kane and Christopher Melendez, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of aggravated assault. They will be sentenced Oct. 16.
The Morrises could face probation or prison time if convicted. The felony conviction would also automatically trigger a minimum 10-game suspension for the brothers, per the NBA’s collective-bargaining agreement.
Hood describes attack
Hood, who testified earlier this week, told Phoenix police he was at the basketball tournament when he spotted the Morris brothers and the three other men.
Hood said he was approached by Kane as he was leaving the gym and that a different person then struck him from behind and pushed him forward. He tried to run after getting back to his feet, but a group of men caught up to him, he said. Hood said he was punched and kicked in the head while he was held down.
He said he remembered Kane holding him down and Marcus Morris kicking him.
Hood said he first met the Morris twins when they were in high school in Philadelphia.
He said he used to mentor them, and the three remained close when the Morrises were recruited to play college basketball at the University of Kansas.
Hood said he had a falling out with them in 2011 based on a text message that he said was misinterpreted by Kane.
According to a police report, Hood told authorities the text in question said he had always been there for the twins’ mother, Thomasine Morris. Hood believed Kane inferred the statement meant their relationship had become sexual.
Defense blames other defendants
Defense attorneys on Monday offered a different take on the evening, as well as Hood’s initial relationship with the Morris brothers.
Tim Eckstein, Marcus Morris’ lawyer, has placed the blame for the attack on Kane and Melendez, the two defendants who pleaded guilty.
Eckstein also suggested in his opening statement that Hood was pointing the finger at the Morrises in hopes of getting a payout from the NBA players. Hood was questioned about that possibility while on the stand, and he said he wanted justice, even if that meant a monetary payout.
On Thursday, in trying to prove Hood’s intentions were to get a payout, Eckstein showed the jury various cellphone text messages that Hood had sent to Sherad. He also showed a message Sherad sent to a friend in Maryland about the attack.
Sometime after the fight, Hood told Sherad the Morrises were going to settle soon for $20 million or else the case would go to court, according to one of the text messages.
In a separate exchange, Sherad sent a text message to a friend telling her the Morrises had beaten her friend.
She and Hood planned on filing a lawsuit against the brothers, “so I might get rich here pretty soon,” the message to the friend said. Further in the exchange, Sherad said that even though she wasn’t physically hurt, she would sue for “emotional distress lol.”
Sherad said she wrote “lol,” which means laugh out loud, in the text because she wasn’t being serious.
She said Thursday she never filed a lawsuit. Hood, however, does have a pending civil case against the brothers.
The trial, which started Monday, is expected to last a total of 10 days.
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