Ole Miss recruit faces assault charges

Published 2:25 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi football signee with a history of legal trouble faces an uncertain future after he was arrested on charges he assaulted a man at a McDonald’s drive-through with brass knuckles.

Starkville police arrested Jamar Hornsby on March 1 and charged him with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor petit larceny after he and two other men allegedly assaulted the man.

The 22-year-old Hornsby is on probation after taking a plea deal in a misdemeanor credit card fraud case that occurred while he was on the University of Florida football team. Hornsby signed a national letter of intent with the Rebels in February, but his future with the team is now uncertain.

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‘‘We are looking into the matter and trying to gather all the facts,’’ Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Monday. ‘‘Once all the facts are in, I will make a decision.’’

Hornsby, a safety, was expected to compete immediately for a starting job with the Rebels, who had depth issues in the secondary last season. But an early morning fender-bender could change all of that.

Starkville police Det. Maurice Johnson said Hornsby, Darrell Simmons and Robert Jordan were arrested around 2:15 a.m. March 1 after an unidentified man rear-ended his vehicle as both waited for service.

Johnson said the drivers of each car spoke briefly. One of the three men then took something from the victim, and Hornsby attacked the victim shortly after.

The victim, whose name is being withheld for his own protection, went to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

Johnson said that the victim and Hornsby did not know each other, and that the attack was related to the accident.

Hornsby is free after posting $15,500 bond and faces up to 20 years in prison on the aggravated assault charge alone. He also likely violated his probation by possessing brass knuckles, which are illegal. He faces up to four years in prison if he fails to complete probation.

An attorney for Hornsby did not return a phone message left Monday.

Florida state attorney Bill Cervone said Hornsby could be headed to prison if it’s determined that he violated probation there.

Police arrested Hornsby in May 2007 on felony charges of improper use of a credit card after he made nearly 70 fraudulent charges on the gas card of a Florida student who died in a motorcycle accident six months earlier. The state attorney’s office later reduced the charges to misdemeanors, but not before Hornsby was dismissed from the football team.

He accepted a plea deal in December on four misdemeanor charges and avoided jail time. He was ordered to pay nearly $9,000 in restitution and court costs. The judge also ordered him to tour the Florida State Prison in Raiford and write an essay about his experiences.

At the time of the plea deal, Cervone said: ‘‘I hope the defendant understands the harm he’s created that goes far beyond just using somebody’s credit card under these circumstances.’’

He said Monday in a phone interview with The Associated Press from his Gainesville office that it is ‘‘always disappointing’’ when a person given a second chance through a plea deal is arrested again.

Hornsby was expected to join the Rebels after graduating from East Mississippi Community College later this year. The school is located in Scooba, which is near Starkville.