Former Duquesne student gets two years probation after guilty plea

Updated: October 30, 2007, 5:10 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- A former Duquesne student pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping two friends armed with guns get into a school dance the night five basketball players were shot and wounded.

Brittany Jones, 20, was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation. A judge also ordered Jones to stay off the university's campus and away from anyone with a gun.

Jones' attorney, James Ecker, said his client could have been sentenced to years in prison if she had not reached a plea agreement.

"She's very happy, she's continuing going to church and she has a job," Ecker told The Associated Press. "She's very happy and her family's very happy."

Jones was the last of four defendants to plead guilty in the September 2006 shooting in which basketball players Sam Ashaolu, Shawn James, Kojo Mensah, Aaron Jackson and Stuard Baldonado were injured.

The gunman, William B. Holmes III, 19, was sentenced Friday to up to 40 years in prison. Another shooter, Derek Lee, 19, was sentenced Oct. 23 to up to 14 years in prison. The two shots fired by Lee did not hit anyone, authorities said.

Jones was a member of the group that sponsored the dance, and invited a group of friends, among them Holmes and Lee, to the on-campus party. She knew some of the men were armed and asked a doorman if people attending the dance were being frisked, which they were not, authorities said.

Another girl, Erica Sager, 19, who knew the two gunmen, flirted with the basketball players, sparking the fight between the two groups. Sager had pleaded no contest to a riot charge and was sentenced to probation.

Judge Lawrence O'Toole on Tuesday harshly criticized Jones for inviting the gunmen to the party. Jones burst into tears and apologized after O'Toole sarcastically told her she could have also chosen to hang out with gangsters Bonnie and Clyde if they were available.

Three of the players who were shot -- James, Mensah and Jackson -- have recovered and are expected to start this season. Ashaolu, who still has shrapnel lodged in his head, is back in school, but does not expect to return to the team until next season.

Baldonado has been suspended because of several arrests this year. It is unlikely he will to return to the university. In April, he sued the university, contending it failed to provide adequate security at the dance.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press