July 5, 2005

Court hears testimony in trial of NBA’s Payton

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - The trial of National BasketballAssociation star Gary Payton and two other players on assaultcharges started on Tuesday with testimony from police involvedwith the case.

Boston Celtics' Payton, Sam Cassell of the MinnesotaTimberwolves and free agent Jason Caffey, were all charged inApril 2003 after an altercation outside a Toronto strip clubwith one of the club's dancers, her boyfriend and the club'ssecurity guard.

The three men, who were teammates on the Milwaukee Bucks atthe time, were in town for a game against the Toronto Raptors.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

The court listened to testimony on Tuesday from threepolice detectives and two employees of the hotel where theplayers were staying. The court also watched a 30-minute videoof the stripper and her boyfriend going through a photo lineup.

One of the detectives testified that the main victim in thecase, the stripper's boyfriend, suffered cuts to his left ear,his right eyelid and had bruises on both shoulders.

Another detective, who photographed the injuries the day ofthe incident, said the bruises could have been from anunrelated incident, but that the other cuts appeared fresh.

Cassell, who is charged with one count of aggravatedassault causing bodily harm and one count of simple assault,was the only player in court.

Payton, who is charged with one count of aggravated assaultcausing bodily harm and two counts of simple assault, isexpected to be in court on Wednesday. Caffey is not expected toattend the trial according to his lawyer.

Payton, Cassell and Caffey, who are being represented byhigh-profile criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan, could face up to18 months in prison if convicted.