After a preliminary hearing Tuesday, a lawyer in the Montee Ball attack case expressed concern about the methods police used to identify the suspects.
Defendants Wendell Venerable, 21, Robert Wilk, 22, and Deonte Wilson, 21, pleaded not guilty at their preliminary hearing. Court Commissioner Todd Meuer said the defendants have 20 days to file motions to the trial court under Judge Rebecca St. John.
Axley Attorney Brian Hough, who defended Venerable, filed a motion for the court to suppress the results of an eyewitness testimony at the preliminary hearing.
In an email to The Badger Herald, Hough said the leading detective in the case presented images of Venerable to the eyewitness without using a line-up and six weeks after the faces of the suspects were given media attention. He said eyewitness testimony is one of the leading causes of wrongful conviction.
“The process is inconsistent with accepted procedures, and is therefore unreliable,” Hough said.
According to Assistant District Attorney Michael Finley, a number of witnesses identified the men in a group based on the color of the shirts they were wearing. He said the witnesses spotted them walking around before the battery occurred. He added the three suspects identified themselves in court from pictures taken from downtown that night.
According to the circuit court complaint, video surveillance from the Saxony Apartments showed the individuals entering the building soon after the time of the attack. It said the men entered the apartment individually and showed confusion as to which direction they wanted to go.
Witnesses identified the men as the alleged attackers from the video footage and still images captured from the video surveillance, according to the complaint.
“I don’t think there is a big problem with the identification myself,” Finley said.
He said the men went into the apartment building after the alleged attack and came out wearing different clothing.
The complaint said the three men, along with two other unidentified males, were spotted the morning of Aug. 1 surrounding Ball and kicking him in the body and face. It alleged they ran away after a man tried to come to Ball’s aid and punched one of the attackers. The witness stated in the complaint he heard one of the suspects say, “We got nine football players to go.”
Finley said a witness heard one of Ball’s attackers say, “He jumped me last week, he jumped me last week.”
According to Finley, a detective testified at the hearing that Venerable told him he had been attacked at a birthday party the week before and needed stitches in his lip.
According to the complaint, the detective confirmed through witness testimony that although Ball was at the party, he was not involved in the fight itself.
The three men accused of attacking Montee Ball this past August will meet for a trial court at a date to be determined.
In an earlier version of this story, the author erroneously stated that the men pleaded guilty. The story has been changed to reflect that they pleaded not guilty.