The Crimson White

Football players’ victim speaks out after arrests

Melissa Brown

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When Samuel Jurgens woke up on a sidewalk outside of Paty Hall shortly before 1 a.m. Monday morning, he thought he was dreaming. His face was numb, his headphones lay nearby, bloodied and broken, and he didn’t recognize where he was. His backpack, containing clothes, books and his Apple Macbook Pro, was gone.

Jurgens struggled to get up, fading in and out of consciousness, and stumbled toward Blount Hall, where he had spent the night hanging out with friends.

On his way across the parking lot between Paty and Blount, he placed a call to his friend, fellow sophomore Chris Burks.

“I apparently called Chris while in that state,” Jurgens said in an interview with The Crimson White Tuesday night. “I don’t have a recollection of that, but I told him something. Something bad has happened to me, I remember thinking before I faded out again.”

Burks, who had spent the evening with Jurgens, said Jurgens called him about 20 minutes after they had parted for the night. He sounded delirious, Burks said, and repeated “I don’t know what happened, I need your help,” multiple times. Burks and another friend, Anna Richardson, hurried to meet Jurgens at the front door of the dorm.

“His left side of his face was gigantic,” Burks said. “The jacket he was wearing and his headphones were completely drenched in blood, the bottom half of his face was completely covered in blood; he was bleeding badly from his lip. He had clearly been badly beaten.”

Friends helped clean Jurgens up and called UAPD, who made a report and escorted him to DCH. To save Jurgens the costly ambulance fee, Burks drove his friend to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion and received stitches to close up his busted bottom lip.

Three UA students and football players were arrested early Tuesday morning in connection with Jurgens’ attack and another student robbery that occurred just an hour later. Each man was booked on two counts of second-degree robbery.

According to arrest records, Tyler Hayes and Eddie Williams admitted to robbing Jurgens near Paty Hall, and Dennis Pettway “aided and perpetrated” the robbery.

Hayes also admitted to standing by moments later along with Pettway while Williams assaulted UA student Caleb Paul in the MIB parking lot on campus.

Williams admitted he struck and knocked both men unconscious. Arrest records do not indicate whether Pettway admitted to the crimes.

The Attack

Jurgens still cannot recall specifics from the attack itself, but remembers the moments leading up to it. Walking from Blount toward his home on Hackberry Lane, he was listening to music when he heard someone ask him a question.

As he pulled his headphones off his ears, Jurgens saw someone approach from his left and ask if he had a lighter.

Jurgens replied that he didn’t and replaced his headphones before hearing the man ask again. He replied the same and turned to walk away.

“That’s when I guess something happened,” he said. “I woke up, my face was swollen, I had cuts, and I had a concussion. Police say that’s probably when they hit me; I just know right after that I lost consciousness and I regained consciousness on the sidewalk, staring at the sky.”

Jurgens said he doesn’t remember being suspicious about the exchange before the attack.

“He just was very nonchalant and asked for a light,” Jurgens said.

Burks said Jurgens initially had difficulty making sense of his situation.

“He didn’t know what was going on. He couldn’t tell us what happened when we first sat him down,” Burks said. “We had been playing a game in my room about 15 minutes before it happened, and he was saying he thought that was days ago. He couldn’t remember anything.”

Richardson said Jurgens’ headphones were completely shattered on the left side, the same side of his face that was swollen and lacerated.

“We thought it must have been an object [that broke the headphones], but when we got a look at the guys who were arrested, it could have very well been their fists; they were huge,” Richardson said.

Though Jurgens said the attack was an “eye-opening experience,” and his body is still recovering, he returned to class Tuesday.

“This was just a matter of chance. I’m still gonna love Alabama football. I just want to deal with this case, move on with my life,” Jurgens said. “I just want to get on with my education. I want to continue being happy here. I was happy here before, and I will continue being happy here.”

Caleb Paul, the second student attacked by the players Monday morning, said Tuesday night that he was feeling well and had returned to classes.

According to a University spokeswoman, UAPD did not send out a campus alert to students in the 24 hours between the muggings and the arrests because the University normally sends out alerts in situations where students need to take immediate action.

UAPD did, however, post an advisory on after the incident.

The Charges

Williams, Hayes and Pettway face less serious charges than the maximum allowed by Alabama law, according to the Code of Alabama Section 13A-8-41 and 13A-8-42, the statutes dealing with burglary.

Alabama law holds that causing “serious physical injury to another” during a robbery is grounds for a first-degree robbery charge. Robbery in the first degree is a Class A Felony.

According to arrest records, Williams knocked both men unconscious in the respective attacks.

Though Jurgens was released from the hospital several hours after his attack, he considers his injuries quite severe.

“They [his injuries] were shocking; they’re something I’m still recovering from,” he said. “From what I’ve been told by the police of what they did to me, it could be much worse. I don’t have any hernia in my eyes, which my doctor was concerned about. Considering how athletic and strong they are, it could be a lot worse.”

When asked if he believed his attackers used excessive force during the assault, Jurgens said he “definitely thinks so.”

“The police report doesn’t say that they just punched me and robbed me,” he said. “They punched me, they kicked me in my back, in my ribs. I would definitely classify it as excessive.”

According to additional arrest records, Williams was charged with the “Fraudulent Use of a Debit/Credit Card” along with fellow UA football player Brent Calloway, after both men used a stolen ACT card to purchase a snack from the vending machine on the first floor of Bryant Hall. Williams admitted to stealing the card from his previous robbery, and Calloway admitted to using the card with knowledge it had been stolen.

Williams was released from jail on a $65,000 bond, Hayes and Pettway were released on a $60,000 bond and Calloway was released on a $5,000 bond, a Tuscaloosa Police Department spokesman said. Jail records indicate they were arrested around midnight and released between 3 and 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. Officers at the Tuscaloosa County Jail said they could not provide information regarding the release of the four men or who paid each of their bail. Sgt. Jeff Judd referred questions Tuesday night to the Sheriff’s Office public information officer, who was not available.

Jurgens said he has never met his attackers before and wasn’t sure if they attacked him with specific intent to rob him.

“It’s almost like they were doing it for fun, because it seemed weird that they didn’t rob me of my wallet or phone or keys,” he said. “But, I just know they sure did an efficient job because I can’t recall parts of it even today.”

Chandler Wright, Will Tucker, Stephen Dethrage and Marquavius Burnett contributed to this report. 

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Football players’ victim speaks out after arrests