Former Missouri RB on trial looks for fresh start

Former Missouri running back and co-captain Derrick Washington, who was kicked off the team after being charged with sexual assault and domestic violence, says he hopes to again play football this fall. Whether he gets that opportunity remains uncertain.

Washington, 22, still faces two criminal trials in the coming weeks. He is set to appear in court on May 11 on two misdemeanor domestic violence charges and again on June 28 on a charge of felony sex assault. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Missouri's leading rusher in 2008 and 2009 was initially suspended by coach Gary Pinkel but dismissed from the team two days later as the Tigers prepared for the start of the 2010 season. He's charged with assaulting a former Missouri tutor in her off-campus apartment while she slept. Two weeks later, Washington was charged with beating an ex-girlfriend who said he hit her in the face five to 10 times and choked her during a late-night argument.

Washington was allowed to remain in school and keep his scholarship, but he quickly dropped out. He said on Twitter last week that "the plan right now is to get back in school." He would have to sit out one year if he transferred to another major-college program but could play immediately for a Div. II school or in the Football Championship Subdivision.

Washington also tweeted that he hopes to work out for an NFL team as an undrafted free agent once the labor dispute is settled, or perhaps play in Canada. He did not respond to an Associated Press interview request, and his attorney was in court Tuesday morning and could not immediately be reached for comment

"Hopefully this fall That's wat I'm praying for idk where," Washington said in response to a Twitter follower's question about his expected return to football. "The plan right now is to get back in school but if not yes I'd go that route."

A legal resolution of his case this summer is no certainty. Hearings and trial dates have been postponed several times while his defense attorney and Boone County prosecutors continue to negotiate. The lead prosecutor remains on maternity leave until June, although the Washington cases have been assigned to another prosecutor.

Court records reviewed by the AP show that prosecutors have issued at least a dozen subpoenas in the felony case, though the names of those witnesses were redacted. Nineteen potential witnesses are listed in the court file, including current and former Missouri students, university administrators and campus police officers.

Washington is charged with deviate sexual assault in the felony case, in which he's accused of entering the victim's bedroom "unwilling and unprovoked" while visiting her roommate, according to the complaint. The incident happened in June 2010, and the woman obtained a court order of protection against Washington. The order expired in July after neither Washington nor the victim showed up in court

In the misdemeanor case, Washington's ex-girlfriend said the couple met on Sept. 11 at an area restaurant and began arguing once they returned to her apartment "because Washington was spitting in (her) kitchen sink on top of her dishes."

The argument quickly escalated, the woman said, with Washington refusing to leave and then grabbing her by the throat while forcing her into a bedroom. He then allegedly climbed on top of the woman, pinned her arms behind her head and struck her in the face, causing a bloody nose and a bruised forehead.

The woman told police that she when she bit Washington's hand while trying to fight back, he poked her in the eyes with two fingers "and tried to press her eyeballs into her skull." Washington also threw a drink in her face, spit on her, cut up a poster she had made for her boyfriend of three years and cornered her in a walk-in closet until a friend arrived at 1:20 a.m.

Washington left after the friend called police and returned to his apartment, where he was arrested several hours later.

After his arrest, Washington told Columbia police he had argued with the woman but characterized it as a verbal spat. He suggested that a physical fight would have left the woman with more severe injuries.

"I did not hit her, because if I did, she would still be asleep," he told police.

The woman later said that Washington had previously assaulted her "at least seven separate times," according to a letter to the judge from assistant Boone County prosecutor Andrea Hayes.

Defense attorney Chris Slusher has previously said that Washington has sought counseling, moved back to the Kansas City area with his parents and enrolled in another school, which he did not identify.