The felony assault case against suspended N.C. State basketball player Markell Johnson has been continued until Jan. 8, according to his attorney’s office.
Johnson and three other defendants were in court Thursday morning for a pretrial conference at the Cuyahoga (Ohio) County Justice Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The four are charged with assaulting Michael Blackwell, 37, in Cleveland on Oct. 8.
Johnson, Demarious Green, Michael Melton and Johnnie Pullum were indicted on Dec. 5. Each was jailed on Dec. 20, ordered to supply a DNA sample and released on $5,000 bond.
According to the Cleveland police report, Blackwell suffered a broken left orbital bone and a concussion. He posted a photo of himself, bloodied, on Facebook on Oct. 8.
When contacted Thursday in Cleveland, Blackwell declined to comment.
Johnson, 19, and his attorney have not responded to requests for comment.
Johnson, was N.C. State’s starting guard for the first 10 games this season and played Dec. 9 against Missouri-Kansas City in the game at Reynolds Coliseum. An NCSU spokesman said Thursday the school did not learn of the indictment until Dec. 14, announcing on Dec. 16 that Johnson had been suspended indefinitely for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct.
“We acted appropriately as soon as we found out about it,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said Thursday.
Johnson sat on the sideline, not in uniform, for the Wolfpack’s game against UNC Greensboro that day.
Keatts said he has had contact with Johnson but did not comment on what was said between the two.
According to the school’s code of conduct, a student-athlete charged with a felony crime will be immediately and indefinitely suspended from athletics participation, pending the final disposition of all charges.
In Ohio, a felonious assault is defined as “knowingly causing serious physical harm to another person” and is a second-degree felony unless the victim is a law-enforcement officer.
While Johnson was indicted in Cuyahoga County on Dec. 5 – and played for N.C. State four days later – the structure of the Ohio court system might have caused some of the confusion on Johnson’s end.
Cuyahoga County sent a certified letter to Johnson’s Cleveland address on Dec. 5 to notify Johnson of the charges and his court date. Johnson wasn’t in Ohio on Dec. 11, when the letter was signed for at the home address.
In the North Carolina court system, Johnson would have been arrested and taken before a magistrate to determine bond conditions on the same day. The felony charge would have triggered the automatic suspension under the athletic department’s rules.
The Wolfpack faces Clemson on Saturday in its ACC opener and plays Notre Dame (Jan. 3) and Duke (Jan. 6) before Johnson’s pretrial hearing.
Wolfpack junior Torin Dorn said the players are not aware of all the details of Johnson’s case.
“We don’t know a lot that’s going on, either,” Dorn said Thursday. “We’re just hoping for the best for him in his situation and praying for him. We hope his situation gets figured out and he’ll be back with us, hopefully.”
Staff writer Joe Giglio contributed to this report.