Two of University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball’s attackers pleaded guilty to substantial battery Wednesday.
Ball was attacked by a group of men on the 500 block of University Avenue the morning of August 1. He was then hospitalized as a result of head injuries.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Finley said the two men, Wendell Venerable and Robert Wilks, pleaded guilty to substantial battery and party to a crime.
The charge indicates the two men were not bystanders, Finley said. Battery causes a substantial injury, such as knocking the victim unconscious or causing the victim to need stitches, he said.
Venerable and Wilks, both 21 at the time of the attack, will most likely go to the First Offender Program, Finley said. The program is ran by the district attorney’s office and was set up especially for young people who do not have criminal records and want to stay out of trouble, Finley said.
An individual in the First Offender Program meets with the district attorney’s office to figure out what their needs are, Finley said. Different people have different needs, he said, that often result in a form of counseling, like alcohol counseling. Community service is often a component of the program.
The district attorney gives the individual a contract with what they need to do to fulfill the conditions of the program, Finley said. If the individual finishes the program, the charges against them are successfully dismissed.
Many municipalities have a deferred prosecution program similar to Madison’s First Offender Program, Finley said.
He said it is difficult to tell what the program will be like for Venerable and Wilks because it is always tailored to each individual. Finley said there would most likely be severe penalties for not completing the program.
“Substantial battery charges could face prison,” Finley said.
Deonte Wilson was also charged with the other two men, Finley said. He added Wilson was sent over to the District Attorney’s Office and is still resolving his case, but it is likely he will settle too.
Joel DeSpain, Madison Police Department spokesperson, said that while the case is now in the court’s domain, MPD is currently searching for an additional suspect.
“There’s a fourth person we will be looking to arrest, but have not done so,” he said.
Finley said Ball was going to come speak at the hearing, but could not attend because the hearing was switched from Monday to Wednesday. He added Ball has been busy with Rose Bowl practices and he attended his sister’s graduation from Edgewood College this weekend.
Ball’s father, Montee Ball Senior, gave a statement saying he does not hold any ill will toward his son’s attackers. He said he wanted them to get treatment and straighten their lives out, Finley said.
“They’ve come to all of the hearings,” Finley said. “The dad, the mom and the family have been real supportive and real interested.”