Dalvin Cook found not guilty in battery case

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was found not guilty Monday of misdemeanor battery, after a woman accused him of punching her in the face in June.

A Leon County jury acquitted Cook on the misdemeanor count, which he was charged with July 10. The 21-year-old woman alleged Cook, a 19-year-old Miami native, punched her in the face several times, following a June argument outside of a bar with a handful of Florida State football players. She alleged Cook initially tried to pacify the situation before he grew angry and punched her at least three times.

“I’m just thankful and blessed the truth came out,” Cook said after the verdict, with attorneys Ricky Patel and Joey McCall flanking him. “I knew what I was doing that night, and I was making peace.”

Soon after the verdict, Florida State announced it has reinstated Cook, who had been suspended indefinitely, pending the results of the trial. He is eligible to return when the Seminoles practice Tuesday.

“In light of today’s ruling in his misdemeanor battery case, FSU football player Dalvin Cook’s indefinite suspension from the team has been lifted, and he will be eligible to practice and to compete representing the university effective immediately,” the school said in a statement.

Cook remained stoic throughout the trial, leaning back in his chair with only his eyes rallying between the attorneys and witnesses.

The jury needed less than 30 minutes to announce its verdict. Cook turned to attorney Ricky Patel, who sat on his right, and promptly hugged his Miami-based representative.

Cook’s mother raised her arms and screamed, “Hallelujah!” His father, laboring from a cast on his left foot and resting on crutches, pumped his arms in celebration.

“From the beginning, we said one thing: We weren’t going to take any pleas. And the reason for that was, if you know Dalvin, this is completely out of character,” Patel said. “It doesn’t make sense.

During closing arguments, McCall repeatedly told the jury the evidence and testimony “just doesn’t add up.” Cook’s attorneys harped on inconsistencies in the statements made by the alleged victim and her friend to police and the 911 dispatcher on the night of June 23, when the incident was alleged to have happened.

Cook’s attorneys also said the alleged victim’s injuries were not consistent with those of someone who had been punched multiple times by a 215-pound football player. McCall, using a visual aid, also argued in his closing statement that the state attorney’s office did not meet the burden of proof.

FSU players  Travis Rudolph, Deondre Francois and  Da’Vante Phillips all testified they did not see Cook hit the alleged victim. The teammates, as well as a defense witness who said he had no prior relationship with either party, testified that the alleged victim hit Rudolph. The alleged victim and her friend, who was also there, alleged she only pushed Rudolph after he approached her and began yelling.