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Tommy Morrison Pleads No Contest to Assault and Battery

March 20, 1996

JAY, Okla. (AP) _ His boxing career and life shattered by positive tests for the HIV virus, Tommy Morrison showed no emotion as he pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.

Morrison, charged in October following an incident at his former girlfriend’s home near Grove, appeared with three attorneys in Delaware County District Court on Tuesday before Special Judge Martha Sue Thompson.

Tammy Witt alleged Morrison, who was scheduled to go to trial Thursday, hit her and bit the finger of another woman during a confrontation at Witt’s home on Oct. 15. Witt is the mother of Morrison’s 5-year-old son.

After accepting the no contest plea, Thompson gave Morrison six-month suspended jail sentences and $200 fines on each count, ordered $15 in restitution on one count and $89 restitution on the other as well as 30 hours of community service on each count. Morrison also must undergo a standard drug and alcohol test mandated in all suspended sentences.

The wording of Morrison’s plea allows defendants to accept plea bargain agreements in criminal cases without technically admitting guilt, posing a legal hurdle to possible civil litigation. In all no contest pleas the court automatically finds the defendant guilty for purposes of sentencing.

Morrison’s lawyers issued a prepared statement following the hearing and declined media requests to speak directly with Morrison.

The statement said in part:

``When the allegations regarding this matter were first made, Mr. Morrison vehemently denied them, and even though the charges which were subsequently filed were only misdemeanors, Mr. Morrison sought a jury trial so he could have his day in court.

``However, Mr. Morrison’s life has changed drastically in the past month, causing him to re-prioritize all aspects of his life. When he was offered the district attorney’s plea of nolo contendre he decided the time and money he was spending defending himself against these charges could be better served by promoting AIDS awareness with young people .... he therefore accepted the plea.

``It is Mr. Morrison’s hope that this chapter of his life be closed ... he is continuing to utilize his financial resources and his time in preparing a videotape to use when he starts visiting schools and it is his sincere hope that he will ... be able to concentrate his efforts and use his strength God has given him in changing the life of at least one person, and hopefully many others.″

Morrison’s community service will be administered through the Northeast Oklahoma Council on Alcoholism headquartered in Miami, which contracts with the Ottawa-Delaware County 13th Judicial District to supervise all court-mandated community service.

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