MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County Court commissioner bound over three UW-Madison students for trial on felony charges in the attack on Badger football star Montee Ball.
Commissioner Todd Meuer said Tuesday evidence from witnesses and surveillance video established probable cause that 21-year-old Wendell Venerable, 22-year-old Robert Wilks, and 21-year-old Deonte Wilson attacked Ball as he walked home in downtown Madison on August 1.
Venerable's attorney, Brian Hough, told 27 News he will challenge the manner in which witnesses provided identification. Police officials say witnesses were shown surveillance footage from an apartment building where the students were spotted a short time after the attack, and also video of the men from earlier the previous evening at downtown's Peace Park. Police officers testified witnesses were also shown still video images. Officers said some of the identification by witnesses involved only the attackers' clothing.
"The process employed by the officers violates the Wisconsin statutes as well as the model policy and procedure with respect to eyewitness identification," Hough told 27 News, without elaborating.
Madison police officer Jacob Conrad testified Tuesday witnesses said after Ball was punched and kicked into unconsciousness, one of the attackers said, "We've got nine football players to go."
Police detective David Gouran testified Venerable told him he had been attacked by Ball and other football players at a party a few days before the attack on Ball. But, Gouran testified no other party-goer who was interviewed implicated Ball.
Conrad testified witnesses said Ball's friend, Kristin Kukowski, threw herself over Ball to protect him and interrupted the attack.
"I thank her so much," said Ball's mother, Melissa Ball, after the court hearing.
"Anybody that sees something like that happening, some people would run, or maybe stop and dial 911. But she took it upon herself to try to prevent him from being further attacked. Not many people do that. She's an angel."
Montee Ball's father, Montee Ball, Sr. told 27 News the attack drove home his son's vulnerability as a high-profile college athlete.
"We tell him, as parents, be a kid, be who you are, enjoy your college life while you got it," Ball said. "(But) Understand where you are and what's going on around you, and don't let the situation get out of control."
Montee Ball was attacked just months after becoming a finalist for college football's top, individual honor, the Heisman Trophy, and choosing to pass on leaving school early for a chance at an NFL career.
His father told 27 News his son's choice still makes sense, despite the attack near campus.
"When he decided to stay, it's about the college degree," Ball, Sr. said.
"We know the NFL is a short span of your life. That degree is what's going to sustain you through your life."
During an arraignment after the commissioner's decision on trial , not guilty pleas were entered for Venerable, Wilks, and Wilson. All three men are charged with a party to felony substantial battery.
"This is going to trial, and justice will be done," Ball, Sr. said.
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