tampabay.com

Hazed youth's dad denies money hunt

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 29, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - The father of a Florida A&M University student on Thursday denied his family had a financial motive for seeking the criminal prosecution of five fraternity brothers charged with injuring his son during hazing.

Four defendants are accused of beating Marcus Jones, 20, of Decatur, Ga., with canes and boxing gloves to the point that he suffered a perforated eardrum and needed surgery on his buttocks. The fifth defendant allegedly participated by encouraging Jones and other candidates to bear up under the beatings while reviving them with water if they passed out.

In trial testimony, Army Master Sgt. Mark Jones Jr., himself a founding member of a University of Alabama-Birmingham chapter of the fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, acknowledged he has hired a law firm but said he did so because he wanted attorneys to help him deal with the news media.

He did not give a yes or no answer when asked if he plans to sue, but said he was only interested in justice being done after seeing what happened to his son.

"There was this big, huge purple ball protruding out of his right buttocks," he said. "I was angry, very angry. My wife was terrified."

His son's first direct testimony may be offered today, said Assistant State Attorney Frank Allman. It has been delayed by lengthy questioning of other witnesses - the father, a doctor, a campus police officer and fraternity officials - by defense lawyers during the trial's first two days.

The younger Jones briefly took the witness stand Thursday with the jury out of the courtroom to help Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker rule on some legal issues.

He was asked how he could give an investigator a positive identification of one of the alleged assailants, despite being blindfolded at the time.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Jones said. "I can identify his voice."

The surgeon who operated on Jones in suburban Atlanta, Dr. David Fern, testified he considered the buttocks injury to be serious although he had no broken bones, muscle damage, blood clots or lasting effects other than a scar.

The seriousness of the injuries is a key issue; the defendants are charged with violating a new Florida law that makes it a felony to cause serious bodily damage or death during hazing. The law, though, does not define serious bodily injury.