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TMCNet:  Second guilty plea entered in assault case: Year-old charges involve two former high school football stars

[May 23, 2009]

Second guilty plea entered in assault case: Year-old charges involve two former high school football stars

HICKORY, May 23, 2009 (Hickory Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Last summer a man was tied up, beaten, burned with a cigarette lighter and sexually assaulted by three men he once considered friends.

One of the three, Johnny Deon Abernathy, 20, pled guilty to kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury in Catawba County Superior Court on Monday.

Jarvis Ledon McCullough, 28, was initially charged with first-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and two counts of first-degree sexual offense.

On May 5, he pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Former Maiden High School running back Tommy Junior Henry, 19, has yet to stand trial for the crimes he is accused of -- first-degree kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

He is scheduled to appear in court July 6.

WHAT HAPPENED: The attack occurred on Friday, June 20, between 10 and 11 p.m. when Henry, Abernathy and McCullough assaulted a man, police said.

The victim originally was described as homeless. He said he had actually been living in a home in McDaniels Circle for about two months before he was attacked there.

The report was filed with the Newton Police Department on Sunday, June 22, at about 4:30 p.m.

Further investigation revealed that the crimes of kidnapping and sexual assault also had occurred. The suspects beat their victim, tied him up and assaulted him further. He was burned with a cigarette lighter and sodomy was attempted.

The victim was described as developmentally delayed by police investigators. He was offended by that description and said it is inaccurate. He said he took remedial classes in high school but is definitely not developmentally delayed.

Newton police originally suspected the attack was racially motivated and may have qualified as a hate crime because the victim is white and his assailants are black.

Further investigation did not support investigators' initial assumptions and it was decided not to pursue hate crime prosecution.

THE SENTENCES: Abernathy's guilty plea resulted in a 45-day suspended sentence for the kidnapping charge and a 75-day suspended sentence for the assault charge. He will be on probation for 24 months for each of the charges.

Abernathy also was ordered to enroll in school to get his GED and to perform 100 hours of community service to be completed in 270 days.

He has been ordered to have no contact with his victim and not to associate with McCullough or Henry and to provide truthful testament against Henry at his trial.

McCullough was sentenced to serve not less than 30 months and no more than 54 months in prison for his part in the attack.

Two of the three accused were high school football standouts. Henry was a top running back for Maiden High School. McCullough was a talented linebacker who played for Bandys High School.

To see more of the Hickory Daily Record or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.hickoryrecord.com. Copyright (c) 2009, Hickory Daily Record, N.C.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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