Domestic violence charges against Panthers' Hardy dismissed

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Prosecutors dismissed domestic violence charges against Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy on Monday after they said the accuser in the case couldn't be found.

The dismissal happened just as Hardy's appeal in the case was set to begin. Mecklenburg County district attorney Andrew Murray told the judge that officials attempted many times to contact the woman, but failed. Murray said the woman had settled her civil suit against Hardy.

Hardy, whose NFL future is uncertain, left with his attorney and did not answer questions. Moments before court convened, Hardy appeared calm, tweeting that he would be giving away a pair of his game cleats to a fan who could name his favorite color, his favorite president and his favorite NBA player.

Hardy was convicted last summer of assault on a female and communicating threats in a case involving a former girlfriend. The Associated Press generally does not name victims of abuse.

Murray told Superior Court Judge Robert T. Sumner that law enforcement had taken "extraordinary" measures to find the accuser so that she could testify during the appeal. He said they took surveillance of her new address, attempted to find her at work and tried to contact relatives but couldn't locate her.

Murray said in a statement released after the proceedings that prosecutors spoke to the accuser in October and November and that "during those conversations the victim expressed that she did not want to participate in another trial."

Murray said that the woman's attorney, Daniel Zamora, also would not share information about her location. Zamora could not be reached Monday for comment.

The accuser testified on July 15 that she was scared of Hardy and worried about her safety if she went to police.

She also testified that Hardy threw her in the bathroom and later onto a futon filled with guns. She also said he placed his hands on her throat and threatened to kill her.

"He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me," the woman testified on July 15. "I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just, 'Do it. Kill me.'"

In his testimony, Hardy refuted that accusation.

He testified that he never hit nor threw the accuser, and didn't threaten her. Hardy said the woman became angry when he wouldn't have sex with her and he left the room to sleep in the living room.

Hardy's NFL future remains uncertain.

He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, and it's uncertain if the Panthers will try to re-sign him.

It's also unclear if the NFL will hand down any punishment against Hardy based on his original conviction. Hardy had faced a possible six-game suspension under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's toughened stance on domestic violence following the Ray Rice ordeal.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email Monday to The Associated Press that Hardy remains on the commissioner's exempt list.

"His status remains unchanged until we fully review the matter," Aiello said in the email.

The Panthers released a statement Monday that read: "We are aware of the decision by the district attorney to dismiss charges against Greg Hardy. Greg remains on the commissioner's exempt list and the NFL has advised us to allow it to complete its review under the personal conduct policy. There is no change in his status at this time."

Hardy, who goes by the nickname "Kraken" after a mythical sea creature, was a dynamic player for the Panthers in his first four seasons, recording 33 sacks. He had 15 sacks in 2013, helping Carolina win the NFC South championship with a 12-4 record.

Following that season, the Panthers put the franchise tag on him rather than allow him to walk in free agency. Hardy made $13.1 million last season despite playing in only one game before being placed on the commissioner's exempt list.

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