Police detail attack in punter stabbing

September 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Police detail attack in punter stabbing

Associated Press

GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado's backup punter asked a friend to lie about his whereabouts the night the starting punter was stabbed in the parking lot of his apartment complex, according to a police affidavit obtained Thursday.
Mitch Cozad is accused of stabbing rival Rafael Mendoza in his kicking leg Monday night in Evans, a small town adjacent to Greeley and about 50 miles north of Denver.
Cozad of Wheatland, Wyo., was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of second-degree assault. He remained free Thursday on $30,000 bond, and Weld County prosecutors said they have until Sept. 22 to formally charge him.
Mendoza, treated and released from a Greeley hospital, will miss at least Saturday's game at Texas State. But he surprised teammates by showing up at a special teams meeting before Thursday's practice.
"The team loved it," coach Scott Downing said. "They gave him a standing ovation when he came into the room. ... I think it helps him to know that not only do the guys think about him, but the guys are happy to have him around."
Cozad has been suspended from the university and evicted from his dorm room. He has not spoken publicly about the incident. Weld County officials said he has been granted permission to stay at his mother's Wheatland, Wyo., home, where no one answered the door Thursday.
The 31/2-page arrest affidavit outlines a plot that had taken shape over at least a week.
According to the affidavit, another kicker, Michael York, told police he provided Mendoza's address to Cozad last week, thinking he was interested in a rental apartment.
That same week, Angela Vogel, identified as a close friend of Cozad's, said he "was extremely upset about issues with his football team" and that Cozad told her "to lie to police and to his mother about his whereabouts on the evening of September 11, 2006," the affidavit said.
During an interview with police Tuesday, the affidavit said, Cozad allegedly also was sending text messages such as "What did you say?" to Vogel while she, too, was speaking with investigators.
On Wednesday, Evans police Lt. Gary Kessler said the only identified motive in the attack was competition for the starting job, but coach Scott Downing has downplayed that theory.
But in the affidavit, Northern Colorado teammate and kicker David Dyches said Cozad "has an extreme hatred, competition, and jealousy" for Mendoza.
Kessler said Mendoza was attacked from behind and stabbed in his right thigh after parking his car outside his Evans apartment about 9:30 p.m.
The assailant fled in a black Dodge Charger, Kessler said. About 10 minutes after the attack, a liquor store clerk told police that two men in a car matching that description stopped outside the store, stripped tape off the license plate and drove away.
According to the affidavit, the clerk gave police the license number "8-KIKR," and the car was traced to Cozad's mother.
"I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support," Mendoza said Thursday in a statement released by the school. "I want everyone to know I am doing well and recovering."
Downing said he's not sure when Mendoza would return, but it could be at least two weeks away. "I asked him and (he said) he'd be back tomorrow," Downing said with a laugh. "He'd be punting on crutches."

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