Barber pleads not guilty to assault

WSU redshirt senior nose tackle Robert Barber pleaded not guilty on one count of second-degree assault at his arraignment on Friday.

Barber’s attorney Steve Graham also filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing there is not enough proof of the level of injury required to constitute felony assault.

Graham said the police are alleging Barber knocked someone unconscious during a house party in July. However, the alleged victim had a blood alcohol content of .23, so Graham argued that level of injury could not be proven.

Graham also questioned why Barber was the only one charged in the assault, saying the fighting included a dozen people. He said Barber maintains his innocence.

“Robert’s looking forward to a trial by a jury of his peers,” Graham said.

Barber was arrested for the alleged assault, which occurred July 23, two months later on Sept. 16. His teammate T.J. Fehoko, a defensive lineman, was arrested as well. Police recommended assault charges for both, but the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Fehoko assaulted anyone.

The Whitman County Prosecutor’s office charged Barber with assault on Feb. 23, and he faces up to ten years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine if he is found guilty.

The Student Conduct Board originally suspended Barber in October, but a Whitman County Superior Court judge allowed him to stay and finish his degree and return to the football team. The conduct board’s process for handling such cases is currently under review by a university task force.

The Whitman County Superior Court will hear the motion to dismiss later in April, Graham said, but a date has not yet been set. Barber’s trial is set to begin May 15.