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The state filed a motion Thursday to dismiss current charges against former Utah cornerback Dominique Hatfield, released from the team last week after he was accused of robbing a man at knifepoint.
According to the motion: "New evidence has been received and examined that casts doubt on the defendant's guilt of the crimes as alleged in the original information."
Specifically, Salt Lake County District Attorney chief deputy Blake Nakamura told The Tribune, the case is complicated by video footage from a nearby Maverik where the suspect is said to have texted the victim, and by number-spoofing technology that allows several cellphones to respond to the same number without creating a call history.
Hatfield, 20, was charged with a first-degree felony after he was identified by the victim of the alleged June 30 armed robbery at a 3900 S. 600 West car wash.
According to charging documents, the victim was answering an online classified ad for an Xbox when he was robbed at knifepoint for $180. Later that night, the victim's wife saw another ad for two iPhones from the same seller, and she set up a buy at the same car wash. There, police arrested Hatfield, who possessed two iPhones.
Nakamura said "the totality of the circumstances" warranted the charges against Hatfield. Now, though, it "requires more investigation before we can put the whole thing to rest."
The state can still re-file charges against Hatfield, though Hatfield attorney Greg Skordas believes it's unlikely the state would re-file the robbery charge.
Nakamura said the state was, however, likely to re-file a class A misdemeanor theft charge for the two phones, which court documents say Hatfield admitted to finding at parties and trying to sell without attempting to return them to their owners.
Skordas said the Maverik video, in particular, proves that Hatfield wasn't guilty of the armed robbery.
In it, a man who meets the victim's original description of the suspect fills up and pays for gas long a mystery for the defense, since Hatfield doesn't own a car, according to co-counsel Greg Phillips. That occurs minutes before the alleged robbery at a car wash across the street.
That man is not Hatfield, Skordas said. Asked if the video also shows Hatfield, he said, "I couldn't answer that either way, definitively."
As to why Hatfield would bring two phones to the scene of another sale, using the same number and the same online classified profile as the alleged robber, Nakamura said it was too soon to say.
The Tribune was unable to connect with Hatfield, who tweeted, "All the charges have been drop thank god! Just wanna clear my name up."
Skordas said that even as Hatfield was kicked off the team and kicked out of school, he never complained or seemed to feel sorry for himself.
"He had maintained his innocence to us from the get-go," Skordas said. "[He] asked us to try to get that video as soon as we could, and told us that if we did get the video, it would show that he was innocent. And he was right."
Attempts to reach Kyle Whittingham were not immediately successful. Whittingham originally suspended Hatfield before stating last week that Hatfield's dismissal from the team came after "further concerns" about his off-field behavior.
Skordas said he hopes to ask the U. and its football team to reconsider Hatfield's dismissal, "and to make sure they understand that this wasn't dismissed because of some constitutional issue or illegal search and seizure, it was dismissed because he wasn't the guy who did the armed robbery."
Hatfield recorded 38 tackles and nine pass breakups in 2014 and was an expected starter for the Utes.