Criminal charges against former Utah cornerback Dominique Hatfield were dropped on Thursday.
A court motion filed by the state read: "New evidence has been received and examined that casts doubt on the defendant's guilt of the crimes as alleged in the original information," per the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, prosecutors say it's possible they could refile altered charges against Hatfield after further investigation.
Hatfield was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly robbing a man of $180 at knifepoint at a car wash on June 30.
"We are relieved that Dominique has been exonerated of the charges against him, but that does not necessarily impact the disciplinary actions we imposed due to a violation of team rules," Wittingham said in the statement. "There is, however, the possibility of future reinstatement to our team if he is able to meet certain expectations we have in place for our student-athletes."
Salt Lake County District Attorney chief deputy Blake Nakamura said the new evidence suggests Hatfield was not the person who robbed the man at knifepoint, according to The Associated Press. Nakamura said prosecutors still suspect Hatfield might have been involved in or aware of the scheme and that surveillance video shows Hatfield in the area where the robbery occurred. Nakamura also said they still believe Hatfield tried to sell stolen cell phones in the same location later on June 30.
Nakamura said charges were brought against Hatfield based on a "totality of circumstances" that included his use of an online identity that the alleged robber had used in the crime earlier the same night. Hatfield allegedly used the identity in an online classified ad offering to sell a pair of cell phones. After the alleged robbery, the alleged victim's wife set up a meeting to purchase the cell phones, according to charging documents. When Hatfield arrived to make the transaction, the alleged victim identified Hatfield as the suspect in the robbery and Hatfield was arrested.
Hatfield's attorney, Greg Skordas, said video evidence from a location across the street from where the robbery occurred proves that Hatfield did not commit the crime.
Charging documents showed that Hatfield denied being involved in the robbery but told police that he had taken cell phones left around at parties by people who had been drinking and then tried to sell the phones in online ads, per the The AP.
Hatfield, who has had disciplinary issues in Whittingham's program before, might seek to be reinstated at Utah, according to Skordas. Skordas said he wanted Utah to "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."
Whether Whittingham takes Hatfield back or not, the cornerback's transfer options will almost certainly improve after the dismissal of the charges.