Two plead guilty in beating case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2005

Two men involved in the March 5 beating of a Newsoms man have pleaded guilty to assault and battery.

Both Dontra Artis, 21, and Dontrail Eley, 19, entered Alford pleas to the misdemeanor charges in Suffolk Circuit Court on Thursday. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a malicious wounding charge filed against each man. Judge Carl Eason accepted the pleas.

An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt. Rather, it is admitting that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could convince a judge or jury to find him guilty.

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Artis and Eley were among five men arrested after the attack on 18-year-old Marvin Jackson, reportedly motivated by his sexual orientation, at a friend’s apartment on East Washington Street.

Jackson, during his preliminary hearing, testified that one of the five men asked him if he was gay. Then, he said, several of them began punching and kicking him, hitting him repeatedly with a chair and dumped hot grease on him.

Neither Artis nor Eley was involved in starting the fight, said Eley’s attorney, Dwayne Strothers.

&uot;I think it (the misdemeanor charge) is appropriate, given that they were not involved in the initial attack,&uot; Strothers said. &uot;I think they just got caught up with the crowd.&uot;

Both men will be sentenced on Nov. 3. Sentencing guidelines were unknown.