Trial starts for accused cup-thrower at Palace brawl

Updated: March 24, 2006, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -- A trial began Friday for the man accused of tossing a cup at Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest, sparking a brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

John Green, 41, of Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township, is charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery. He is the only person with a case still pending in the Nov. 19, 2004 brawl.

A witness testified Friday that he saw Green watching Artest before he tossed the cup. But a lawyer for Green argued that tossing a cup isn't assault. Testimony was scheduled to resume on Monday in 52-3 District Court.

The brawl started after Detroit's Ben Wallace shoved Artest following a hard foul. After they were separated, Artest was doused with a beverage, rushed into the stands and began beating a man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his teammates joined him in the stands and also clashed with fans on the court.

Artest and four other Indiana players, Anthony Johnson, David Harrison, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, were among those charged in the case. They each pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery and were sentenced to probation and community service. All except Harrison also were suspended by the NBA.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press