Two University of South Carolina basketball players charged earlier this month with property crimes are applying for pre-trial intervention, a program that helps first-time, non-violent offenders get their charges dropped and then expunged.
And the pair met this week with at least one downtown Columbia resident to apologize.
Jamall Gregory and Eric Cobb on March 17 were arrested and charged with property crimes related to a string of BB-gun related incidents in downtown Columbia. They were released on personal recognizance bonds later that day.
The arrests followed USC basketball coach Frank Martin’s March 15 announcement that both players, plus three more, were indefinitely suspended for a “conduct issue.”
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If accepted into PTI, Gregory and Cobb would need to complete certain requirements, such as performing community service, passing drug tests or paying restitution to the victims.
The freshmen on Monday met with Kathryn Fenner, vice president of the University Hill neighborhood association, to apologize for shooting out one of her car windows with a BB gun, Fenner said.
The two seemed “genuinely remorseful” and indicated they had learned from the experience, said Fenner, who set up the meeting by contacting the pair’s attorney, Richland County Councilman Seth Rose. Rose declined to comment, saying he didn’t want to speak about a pending legal matter.
“They have to realize that there’s a human being there,” Fenner said. “I’m not a mean person. I’m not a nasty person, but they hurt me.”
They have to realize that there’s a human being there.”
Kathryn Fenner, University Hill neighborhood association vice president
Police say Cobb on March 7 shot a BB pellet gun at an occupied vehicle at the 2100 block of Blossom Street, damaging the vehicle’s rear right passenger door but not hurting any occupant.
Gregory was accused of using a BB pellet gun on March 9 to damage three cars along the 900 block of Laurens Street in the University Hill neighborhood. Gregory also allegedly used a BB pellet gun on March 6 to damage the side of a building on the 800 block of Park Street.
Some other residents in the University Hill neighborhood, including Fenner, have told The State newspaper their car windows were shattered around the same time, though they were not listed as victims in police reports.
Fenner said a Columbia police officer told her and other University Hill residents that Gregory and Cobb were applying for pre-trial intervention, or PTI, which is allowed in some cases for non-violent, first-time offenders. Another neighbor affected by the property crimes said he heard that, too.
Completion of a PTI program allows the charges to the dropped and never to appear on a person’s record.
Efforts to reach Dan Johnson’s 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office were unsuccessful. A Columbia police spokeswoman directed questions to the solicitor’s office.
When asked for information on how Greogry’s and Cobb’s cases might unfold within USC’s student judicial process, USC spokesman Wes Hickman said: “The legal process and the student judicial process are independent of one another. Due to (federal) restrictions, I’m not at liberty to discuss the latter.”
Asked earlier this month if the five suspended players would be part of USC’s basketball team moving forward, coach Frank Martin replied, “I have no idea.”
Fenner said she wanted to meet with the two players in person because she believes in “restorative justice,” which focuses on reconciliation between victims and the community.
“You apologize to the victim, and there’s some closure,” Fenner said. “I think they ought to understand that this is a person here.”
You apologize to the victim, and there’s some closure.”
Fenner said after meeting with Gregory and Cobb, she hopes they are accepted into PTI.
“It was pretty clear they weren’t just a bunch of arrogant, entitled athletes, as some people might have thought,” Fenner said. “They were just kids. They really seemed genuinely sorry.”