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Punter once considered sharing apartment with accused attacker

GREELEY, Colo. -- A college punter who was attacked by a
knife-wielding man testified Thursday he once considered sharing
his apartment with the teammate accused of the assault.

Rafael Mendoza, a starting punter for Northern Colorado, was
left with a deep wound in his kicking leg in the attack last Sept.
11.

Police and prosecutors allege Mitch Cozad, the backup punter at
the time, stabbed Mendoza in a bid to get the starter's job.

Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., is on trial on charges of attempted
first-degree murder and second-degree assault. His attorney, Joseph
Gavaldon, has said another student attacked Mendoza.

Questioned by Gavaldon, Mendoza said Cozad -- who lived in a dorm
-- once told him "he was thinking about moving out, and I had an
extra bedroom" in an off-campus apartment.

Asked if he was considering offering the room to Cozad, Mendoza
said, "That's right."

Later, Gavaldon asked Mendoza about his previous testimony that
he could not see who attacked him because only the assailant's eyes
were visible beneath the cinched-up hood of a black sweat shirt.

"It wasn't Mitchell Cozad, was it?" Gavaldon asked.

"I couldn't tell you that," Mendoza replied.

The 22-year-old Mendoza was composed on the stand Thursday, a
day after breaking down in sobs as a prosecutor replayed his
labored, panting 911 call.

In afternoon testimony, former Evans police detective Angela
Quinn said during a search of Cozad's room Sept. 14 she found two
pairs of black shoes, four black shirts and a black sweat shirt
with a hood that had white stripes down the sleeves.

During a search of Cozad's Dodge Charger on Sept. 19, Quinn
testified that in the trunk she found a rubber glove with a middle
finger missing, and in a console are between the seats she found a
plastic bag with more rubber gloves.

David Ennor, whose girlfriend lives in the complex, also
testified that he drove his pickup truck into the parking the night
of the attack and was flagged down by Mendoza. Ennor said he saw a
figure in dark clothing sprinting and that he saw a dark vehicle
peeling out of the parking lot.

Ennor tried to catch up to the vehicle to get a license plate
number, but lost sight of it.

"After looking around and not seeing anything, I headed back to
apartment," he said.

Kyle Oakeson, an employee at Knotty Pine Liquor, also testified
Thursday that he saw a fast-approaching car suddenly whip into a
parking space as he stared out the store's drive-thru window.

Oakeson noticed two people dressed all in black get out, peel
off tape from the license plates, get back into the car and speed
off.

He said the license plate was from Wyoming and read 8-KIKR,
which later was traced to Cozad's mother. Oakeson called 911 to
report what he'd seen, and his 911 call was played for the jury.

Before the jury left for the day, they sent a note to Judge
Marcelo Kopcow asking him to ask Quinn whether Mendoza or Oakeson
mentioned white stripes down the arm of a black hoodie. Quinn
answered: "No."

Gavaldon has said prosecutors jumped to the conclusion that
Cozad attacked Mendoza because Cozad's car was used.

Instead, Gavaldon has blamed the stabbing on Kevin Aussprung,
another Northern Colorado student who told police he was with Cozad
the night of the attack.

Gavaldon said in his opening statement that Aussprung, a soccer
player, was a "football wannabe" who did not like Mendoza.

Aussprung's attorney, Bill Crosier, has denied his client was
the attacker. Aussprung is expected to testify later in the trial.

Quinn testified Thursday that, according to phone records,
Aussprung and Cozad had either text messaged or called each other
at least 50 times between Sept. 9 and 11.