GREELEY, Colo. – Northern Colorado punter Rafael Mendoza left a courtroom visibly shaken Monday after his former backup appeared before a judge on charges of trying to kill Mendoza by stabbing him in his kicking leg.
Mitch Cozad is charged with attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault in the Sept. 11 attack on Mendoza.
Mendoza is UNC's starting punter and Mendoza was a reserve kicker until he was suspended after the attack. Police have said the motive appeared to be rivalry.
Cozad, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and white tie, answered "yes" or "no" to the judge's questions but said nothing else. He and his attorney, Joseph Gavaldon, declined comment as they left Weld County District Court.
Mendoza also declined comment. He said last week that Monday's hearing would be difficult because it would be the first time he has seen Cozad since the attack.
Police said Mendoza was ambushed a dimly lit parking lot at his apartment complex and suffered a 3- to 5-inch deep knife wound in his kicking leg. He has returned to the team but said he walks with a limp, finds sitting painful and has changed his punting style because he cannot extend his leg as far as he used to.
Cozad, 21, of Wheatland, Wyo., faces up to 48 years in prison if convicted. He is free on $500,000 bail.
A judge scheduled two more hearings Monday but declined to rule on motions by Cozad's attorney to close a Jan. 19 preliminary hearing, limit pretrial publicity and keep the arrest warrant affidavit sealed.