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Man takes stand to deny shooting former Jaguars OL Collier

  • By Associated Press
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The man charged with shooting and paralyzing former Jaguars offensive lineman Richard Collier denied any role in the attack in testimony Wednesday.

Tyrone Hartsfield, 33, faces attempted murder and weapons charges in the 2008 assault that also cost Collier his left leg.

When asked by his attorney, Ann Finnell, if he shot Collier, Hartsfield replied, "Never, never, never. I didn't do this to Mr. Collier."

Hartsfield, also a convicted felon, cried several times during his approximate four hours on the stand. He contradicted most of the testimony from the state's key witness, Stephan Wilson, a convicted bank robber.

Hartsfield testified that on the night of the shooting, he was with his fiancee at a nightclub the entire evening, and they went home after a concert. He said he didn't see Collier at the nightclub, although several other witnesses have claimed that the former Jaguar was there.

Closing statements are expected to begin Thursday, and the case should go to the jury Thursday afternoon. If convicted, Hartsfield faces up to life in prison.

Collier was shot several times while sitting in his car with teammate Kenny Pettway at an apartment complex, waiting for two women to return. The shots severed Collier's spinal cord, and doctors had to amputate his left leg after blood clots formed.

Prosecutors allege that Hartsfield shot Collier out of revenge because the football player had knocked him out in a bar a few months earlier. However, Hartsfield denied wanting revenge.

"I've got nothing to do with it," Hartsfield testified. "I'm not that kind of person."

Wilson testified that he drove with Hartsfield as they followed Collier's car from a nightclub to the apartment complex near downtown Jacksonville. Wilson said he sat in the car while Hartsfield walked down a long driveway behind the apartment where Collier was parked in his red Cadillac Escalade. Wilson said he heard several gun shots.

Hartsfield returned and said he had shot Collier, Wilson said in his testimony.

Hartsfield's defense has been attempting to discredit Wilson, bringing in several witnesses who claimed he was a liar.

"This liar that you've got on your team came and destroyed my life," Hartsfield, speaking about Wilson, told the prosecutor.

Hartsfield's fiancee and the mother of his 7-month-old daughter, Nikia Pressley, also testified Wednesday and backed up Hartsfield's testimony that she was at the club with him.

Collier grew up in Shreveport, La., and attended Tyler Junior College in Texas, where a counselor steered him toward the football office. Collier transferred to Division II Valdosta State in Georgia and won a national championship. The Jaguars invited Collier to camp, and he beat out several veterans to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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