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Former BYU football players plead no contest, guilty to assault charges

By Emiley Morgan | Posted - Mar 15th, 2013 @ 7:03pm

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PROVO — Two former BYU football players charged in connection with an assault at a Mexican restaurant have entered pleas and resolved their cases.

Zachary Stout, 22, pleaded no contest Wednesday to one count of assault, a class B misdemeanor, while Joe Sampson, 23, pleaded guilty to an identical charge. Both were charged in connection with an altercation that took place in the early morning hours of Nov. 1 at the Rancherito's restaurant in Provo.

The fight broke out around 3 a.m., and officers who responded reported that many of those involved had fled the scene by the time police arrived.

A surveillance video shows several fights and one woman being punched in the face and falling to the floor. Officers apparently used the videos to identify those involved in the incident.

Both Stout and Sampson were originally facing two counts of assault, a class B misdemeanor, but the second charge against each of them was dismissed in exchange for their pleas.

A no-contest plea means that the individual does not admit guilt to the charges but will not contest the allegation. For sentencing purposes, a no-contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea.

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Judge Vernon Romney ordered that both men's pleas be held in abeyance for 12 months, in which time they must pay $400 in fees, complete an anger management course and have no further violations of law. If they do so successfully, they can request to have the charges against them dismissed.

Sampson, a senior, had started eight games in the 2012-2013 season, recording 33 tackles. He had 56 tackles in his two-year BYU career.

Stout played in one game at inside linebacker in the 2012-2013 season and made one tackle. In 2010 as a freshman, he had 21 tackles in 10 games, then missed the 2011 season due to injury.

Both men were suspended after the incident and withdrew from BYU.

The cases against two other men charged in the incident are pending. Alexander Jackman, 22, who is facing two counts of assault, a class B misdemeanor, has a pretrial conference March 18. Matthew Santos, 21, has pleaded not guilty to the sole misdemeanor assault count he is facing. His next court appearance is set for April 8.

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