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Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham announced Monday that Dominique Hatfield is suspended indefinitely, pending "further clarity from the legal system" after Hatfield was charged with felony aggravated robbery last week.
Meanwhile, a Hatfield attorney said he believes surveillance footage from a nearby Maverik will exonerate the junior cornerback.
Hatfield is accused of pulling a knife on a man who responded to an online classified ad for a video game console near 500 W. 3900 South, demanding the man's money and running off with $180 in cash.
He's also charged with theft of lost or misdelivered property, a class A misdemeanor, after court documents say he told a Unified Police detective that he found cellphones at parties and tried to sell them online.
An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, July 21.
Hatfield attorney Greg Skordas told 700 AM after Hatfield was released on bail Thursday that a "best-case scenario" for resolution was 60 to 90 days; worst-case, a year.
Co-counsel Greg Phillips, the father of Utah junior kicker Andy Phillips, said Monday he is anxious to see surveillance footage from a nearby Maverik on the night of the alleged robbery.
According to charging documents, the suspect texted the victim to say he was at a nearby Maverik and would arrive shortly. Later, police interviewed a Maverik cashier who said that a man matching the victim's description of the suspect a black man with dark pants, a green beanie, a backpack and a dark shirt bearing a gray design had, indeed, been at the store around the time that text message was sent.
In the probable cause statement provided at Hatfield's booking, the victim is said to have described the suspect as a 6-foot-3 black man.
Hatfield is 5-foot-10. When he was arrested later that night, Phillips said, he was wearing Utah shorts, a gray hoodie and a Detroit Tigers hat.
Even though the victim later identified Hatfield as the man who'd held him up at knifepoint, Phillips said he's "100 percent convinced" that when the state reviews the surveillance video, it will see a suspect who is clearly not Hatfield.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill would not comment on Maverik surveillance footage Monday, even to acknowledge that it had been asked for, but the same cashier told The Tribune on Monday that the store keeps multiple cameras rolling. Requests for video are handled by Maverik's corporate office, the cashier said.
However, the cashier, granted anonymity to prevent unwanted attention from fans, said the man who met the officers' description was much shorter than 6-foot-3.
That man also prepaid for gas, the cashier said, a fact that Phillips finds odd given that, according to Phillips, Hatfield does not own a car. Phillips also noted that the phone number attached to the classified ad (referred to in the probable cause statement provided at the time of Hatfield's booking) is not Hatfield's.
When called, that number rings until voicemail.
Hatfield recorded 38 tackles and nine pass breakups last year. He remains on scholarship and has a redshirt year available, should the legal process drag on through this season. Still, his absence would be an undeniable blow to Utah's secondary.
Junior Reginald Porter whose injury last fall camp led to Hatfield's switch from wideout to cornerback is likely to start at one of the outside corner spots, and junior Justin Thomas brings experience at nickel.
Beyond that, Utah's corners fall into the category of "unproven."
Sophomores Boobie Hobbs and Tavaris Williams saw limited playing time as true freshmen. Junior Brian Allen like Hatfield, a former wideout intercepted a handful of passes during spring camp. But after Hatfield and Thomas, the rest of Utah's cornerbacks have seven tackles and one pass breakup between them.
South Carolina transfer Ahmad Christian, who played two years for the Gamecocks, tore his Achilles during winter conditioning. His midseason return at nickel could facilitate a move outside for the versatile Thomas.
Junior college signee Cory Butler is still working to qualify for this season and appeared to be on track when The Tribune last spoke to Whittingham, late last month.
A four-star recruit, Butler had 46 tackles and five interceptions at L.A. Harbor as a sophomore.
Speedster Kyle Fulks played on both sides of the ball at Blinn College in Texas, but the departures of Dres Anderson and Kaelin Clay may leave Utah with a greater need for Fulks at receiver.
Notable Utah football suspensions since 2003
September 2003 • Running back Marty Johnson was suspended for the remainder of the season after a second DUI arrest in 11 months.
September 2003 • Wide receiver Paris Warren was suspended for one game and lost his spring 2004 scholarship after shoplifting from a Salt Lake City grocery store.
October 2003 • Offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu was suspended the first half of one game and the entirety of another game for separate on-field incidents in which he kicked opposing players.
September 2005 • Linebacker Malakai Mokofisi was suspended for the remainder of the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
March 2006 • Wide receiver Fano Tagovailoa was briefly suspended after facing domestic violence charges that were ultimately dismissed.
May 2006 • Linebacker Joe Giuliani was suspended after an arrest on suspicion of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. He later left the team.
November 2006 • Offensive tackle Jason Boone was suspended two games for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
March 2008 • Wide receiver Marquis Wilson was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed reason, one year after a separate suspension afer a DUI charge. He never returned to the team.
August 2012 • Safety Brian Blechen was suspended for three games for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Sources later told The Tribune that Blechen had failed multiple drug tests.
October 2014 • Defensive end Moana Ofahengaue was suspended indefinitely after pleading to impaired driving in a February motorized bike accident that left him in critical condition. Ofahengaue rejoined the team in spring but was sidelined by doctors due to lingering head trauma.