Ex-Bengal in court today over Kalahari incident

SANDUSKY It's crunch time for a former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker who was known for his crunching
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

It's crunch time for a former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker who was known for his crunching tackles.

Odell Thurman, 25, is scheduled to appear today in Erie County Common Pleas court for his final plea hearing on a felonious assault charge.

Thurman is accused of punching Neal Wolf, 20, North Royalton, in the face and breaking his jaw during an altercation May 27 at Kalahari Resort.

If Thurman and his attorney, Rick Garrand, can't work out a plea deal with Erie County prosecutors, the case is set to go to trial Jan. 27.

"I still have pain constantly. It's an ongoing thing," Wolf said.

A witness said Thurman and some of his friends were cutting in line at the water park, according to an Erie County Sheriff's report. When Thurman and his group got to the front of the line, they began making rude remarks.

Wolf went down the slide to get away from Thurman and his group. Thurman followed Wolf down the slide and then went directly toward Wolf and punched him, the report said.

Wolf said he'll attend today's hearing.

Thurman could receive up to eight years in prison and a $20,000 fine if convicted.

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said he has yet to review security video of the incident, but investigators have seen it.

Thurman, a second-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft out of the University of Georgia, was suspended for the 2008 season after violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the Associated Press reported.

He was released by the Bengals on May 19.

Thurman is free on $20,000 bond.