HILLSBOROUGH – Three suspects became two after a judge found no evidence to show a 29-year-old mother of eight robbed and sexually assaulted UNC-Chapel Hill football players last month.
District Court Judge Alonzo Coleman dismissed seven felony charges Friday against T’Nikia Washington, including one accusing her of plotting with Monique Taylor of Greenville and Michael Troy Lewis of Durham to rob three football players in a Chapel Hill apartment.
District Attorney Jim Woodall said a grand jury could still indict Washington when it meets Feb. 4 after his office interviews the only player who did not testify at a probable cause hearing Thursday. That player is the one who witnesses said had some sort of sexual contact with Washington. For now, though, Washington is free.
Woodall said he was not surprised that Coleman threw out several charges.
“If a judge or a magistrate doesn’t find probable cause in a case, you’ve got to really examine it closely,” he said. “That’s got a big influence on how we indict a case.”
Tar Heel center Lowell Dyer and another player testified Thursday that they and a third player went out drinking just before midnight Dec. 16. At the East End Martini Bar on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, the third player drifted away from them.
“It’s not uncommon for [that player] to wander off whenever we go out,” Dyer said. “Anytime [that player] goes out, he goes out pretty hard, and he’s usually the most intoxicated person.”
The third player later called by cell phone to say he had returned to his and Dyer’s apartment. Lewis told police the third player had offered the women money for sex and invited them to the apartment.
When Dyer and his teammate, who lives elsewhere, returned to the apartment about 3 a.m., Dyer went right to bed, he said. His teammate said he found Lewis and the third football player in a bedroom with the two women.
The teammate who had returned with Dyer testified he was curious and went into the room.
That player testified Thursday that Taylor removed his shirt, pushed him onto a bed and bound his hands while a naked Lewis put a knife to his throat. Taylor fondled him while Lewis collected home electronics to steal, he said. That player testified also that Washington was in the room “hooking up” with the player whose room it was.
Lewis remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail on charges that he kidnapped two of the players, conspired to kidnap, rob and sexually assault one, and attempted to steal from all three. Coleman also found enough evidence to hold Lewis on charges that he robbed Dyer with a kitchen knife.
At Thursday’s probable cause hearing, Dyer testified that he had not been sexually assaulted but had his wallet stolen by a man police identify as Lewis. Dyer said the man demanded his bank machine identification number at knifepoint.
Taylor posted $50,000 bail last month. Coleman found probable cause Friday to charge her with kidnapping and sexually assaulting one player, and conspiring with Lewis to kidnap, rob and assault the player.
‘Truth will come out’
Washington declined to comment on Lewis’ claim that she was trading sex for money. She has no prior criminal record.
“Right now, I can’t say anything. My lawyer said I can’t,” she said. “The truth will come out when all is said and done.”
Her attorney, Susan Seahorn, declined to comment this week.
Washington said it wasn’t fair that her name and photograph have been publicized, while her accuser remains anonymous.
She and her husband are raising eight children in their home in northeast Durham. For most of her nearly three weeks in jail, the children have been on holiday break and traveling to visit relatives all over the Southeast.
“I just want my babies,” she told her mother via cell phone after her release. “I just want my life back.”