Almost two weeks after Phoenix police went public with suspicions that twins Markieff and Marcus Morris committed felony aggravated assault, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office officially filed charges against the Suns forwards on Tuesday, according to intrepid ESPN.com reporter Ramona Shelburne.
The Morris twins stand — rather sizably at 6-foot-10 apiece — accused of punching and kicking a man who reportedly contends he once mentored them during their rise to basketball stardom at Philadelphia's Prep Charter High and the University of Kansas. Three other men, including USC safety and potential NFL draft pick Gerald Bowman, also face charges for the alleged beating outside a youth basketball game.
According to an Arizona Republic report earlier this month, police believe the attack resulted from "an inappropriate text message" to the Morris brothers' mother, Thomasine Morris, but alleged victim Erik Hood claims the text simply said "he'd always be there" for her and was misinterpreted by his assailants.
When approached by The Republic, Markieff and Marcus Morris denied assaulting Hood and claimed not to even know the 36-year-old man, but a police spokesman's statement to ESPN tells a different story.
"Because the offense occurred at a basketball tournament with over 100 in attendance, including many youth under the age of 18, the Phoenix Police detective assigned to this investigation was tasked with tracking down and interviewing all who may have been witness to the assault, including out-of-state attendees. After weeks of interviews and information-gathering, the detective was able to present a cognitive investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review."
Following the grand jury hearing on April 10, all five suspects are expected in court on May 7, per ESPN.
After the Morris twins played integral roles in the Suns' surprising run to 48 wins in 2013-14, president of basketball operations Lon Babby "offered a total of $52 million over 4 years to the brothers as a package deal, and asked them to split it how they wanted," according to Bright Side of the Sun's Dave King. Markieff ultimately received $32 million, with his brother Marcus accepting $20 million through 2018-19.
This past season, Markieff averaged 15.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 31.5 minutes over all 82 games. Marcus averaged 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 25.2 minutes during 81 games.
The charges come 13 days after Atlanta Hawks reserves Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic were arrested for disorderly conduct in the aftermath of a New York City stabbing incident that injured Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland. Suns teammate P.J. Tucker pled guilty to driving under the influence this past summer and served a three-game suspension. The NBA's most recent assault case involved Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor, who was suspended for 24 games after pleading guilty to domestic violence.
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