Thurman on Kalahari charge: I wasn't even there

SANDUSKY An Erie County judge granted a continuance in the trial of a former NFL linebacker accused
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

An Erie County judge granted a continuance in the trial of a former NFL linebacker accused of breaking the jaw of a Kalahari Resort guest.

Odell Thurman, 25, was set to go on trial Tuesday for felonious assault. Thurman is accused of punching Neal Wolf, 20, of North Royalton, during a May 2008 visit to the indoor waterpark.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette granted the continuance this week after Thurman's attorney, Ric Garand, filed a notice of alibi. Garand contends that Thurman was in Monticello, Ga., the date of the incident.

"We believe it's a case of mistaken identity," the attorney said.

The continuance gives prosecutors time to investigate Thurman's alibi.

"If he's satisfied it's a good alibi, he could do something with the case," Garand said.

That "something" could range from requesting a dismissal of the charge to requesting a reduced charge. Prosecutors could also elect to just go ahead with the original charge.

Kalahari security video shows Thurman at the resort the day of the incident, prosecutors said. Garand said the video shows a man who "fits the description" of Thurman, but is not Thurman.

A witness said Thurman and some of his friends were cutting in line at the waterpark.

When Thurman and his group got to the front of the line, they began making rude remarks, a sheriff's report states.

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

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

The Bengals drafted Thurman in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft. Thurman was a contender for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, but lost out to Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers. Thurman is suspended indefinitely by the NFL for a series of off-field transgressions.