Six Mississippi State players avoid jail time

Updated: April 27, 2006, 9:39 PM ET
Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Six Mississippi State football players accused of assaulting an off-duty police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to reduced charges.

Cornerback Derek Pegues, safety Keith Fitzhugh, offensive tackle Michael Gates, quarterback Tray Rutland and defensive ends Charles Burnes and Quinton Wesley -- all freshmen -- were each fined $500 and received six-month suspended sentences for misdemeanor simple assault.

"We are extremely pleased with the outcome," said attorney Jay Perry, who represents the players.

Police chief David Lindley and prosecutor Roy Carpenter could not immediately be reached for comment.

The players had been suspended indefinitely by Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom.

Croom said he hasn't decided if they will play in the season opener Aug. 31 against South Carolina.

The pleas came four days before the players faced a hearing on the charges. Had they been convicted of felony assault, they each could have faced up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Authorities have said the April 1 incident took place at a party of campus. Police said Officer Demetric Armstead was off duty and attending the event with his fianceé.

Police said when an argument escalated between two women, Armstead intervened.

Police said that's when the suspects assaulted the officer, knocking him to the floor and kicking him and punching him.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press