KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two of three UT football players facing attempted armed robbery charges have been released from jail.
Don Bosch, attorney for Janzen Jackson, 18, says Jackson was released on his own recognizance. Michael Edwards, 18, was also released on bond.
Nu'Keese Richardson, 18, Edwards and Jackson were arrested 2:00 a.m. Thursday.
The incident happened at the Pilot convenience store on Cumberland Avenue.
Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk says the three victims told officers that they were outside the Pilot waiting for a friend who was inside the store, when they were approached by three black men with a gun who demanded that they victims "give us everything you've got." The suspect were wearing black hoodies.
"(They) put a gun to my face and said, 'give me everything you've got.' And I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm broke,' " one of the robbery victims, Corey Zickefoose, says. "I knew he wasn't gonna shoot nobody. I could tell, he was hesitating."
The victims told police when they told the suspects that they didn't have any money, they took off in a Toyota Prius, apparently driven by a woman.
Officers stopped the suspect vehicle on near Gibbs Hall on Lake Loudoun Blvd.
"A felony stop was conducted on the vehicle," DeBusk says in the news release. "Four subjects were detained from the vehicle...In plain view, officers observed two black hoodies in the back seat [sic]. Underneath the back seat towards the middle, officers located a black, CO2 powered pellet gun."
"I thought the gun was real," victim Corey Smith says.
Investigators also found what appeared to be marijuana in a plastic baggie, in addition to a marijuana grinder. The female driver, Marie Montmarquet, 22, told officers the grinder were her's, DeBusk says. The apparent bag of marijuana was found in Montmarquet's jacket, DeBusk says.
Richardson, Edwards and Jackson were taken into custody, along with the woman.
The players are each charged with three counts of attempted armed robbery. Montmarquet is charged with three counts of attempted armed robbery, simple possession of scheduled VI and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Her attorney, Gerg Isaacs calls her an excellent student, and says she's a former legislative intern with the state house.
"Our investigation confirms she has nothing to do with any of the allegations," he says. "We're aggressively working with the prosecution to get this matter resolved."
Richardson and Edwards are being held at the Knox County Jail. Their bond is set at $19,500. Montmarquet's bond is set at $16,000.
Bosch says, "Mr. Jackson vehemently asserts his innocence and hopes to demonstrate that in the next 24 to 48 hours."
It's not clear what, if any, punishment the Athletics Department will level against the players.
"They can just let em play football, they'll be all right," Smith says.
"I think it should be up to the coaches, I don't know," Zickefoose says, adding, despite the severity of the charges, "I still love Tennessee, though. If it's gonna help out the team, I'm gonna go for that."
UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton released the following statement Thursday morning:
"At this time we are currently evaluating the circumstances surrounding an incident involving Mike Edwards, Janzen Jackson and Nu’Keese Richardson.
Any decisions or comments regarding their status will not be made until the evaluations are complete.”
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