WPR News
2:38 am
Thu August 9, 2007

Cozad Guilty Of Assault

Greeley, Co – A Weld County jury has found former
University of Northern Colorado backup punter Mitch Cozad guilty of
second-degree assault, but NOT guilty of attempted first-degree
murder.
The Wheatland, Wyoming resident had faced both charges in
connection with a knife attack on starter Rafael Mendoza last
September.
Jurors deliberated for a full day yesterday before announcing
this morning that they had reached a verdict.
Bond was denied because the crime was committed with a deadly
weapon, and Cozad was taken into custody pending a sentencing
hearing scheduled for October 2nd.
Cozad did NOT testify in his own defense. He shook his head as
the verdict was read, and was led away from the courtroom in
handcuffs.
Mendoza stared at Cozad but said nothing.
---
As the handcuffs clicked shut, Cozad's fiancee, Michelle
Weydert, broke into uncontrollable sobs.
Mendoza was attacked last September 11th outside his Evans
apartment. He testified he could NOT see who attacked him.
He was left with a deep gash in his kicking leg but later
returned to the team.
Jurors returned their verdict shortly after 10 o'clock this
morning after starting deliberations early yesterday. Testimony
covered five days, most of that taken up by prosecution witnesses.
Prosecutors say Cozad stabbed Mendoza in a desperate bid to get
the starting job, but the defense said it was another student who
attacked Mendoza.
Jurors deliberated until about 5 p.m. yesterday. Earlier, they
sent a note to District Judge Marcelo Kopcow asking --quote--
"Does intent to cause death need to be present or can it come
later?"
After conferring with prosecutors and the defense, Kopcow sent a
reply that did not directly answer.
The question apparently troubled Cozad. He has been stoic for
most of the trial but appeared shaken after Kopcow announced his
response and left the courtroom.
The jury was not present at the time.
Defense attorney Joseph Gavaldon said Cozad was "scared to
death."
Mendoza told reporters yesterday that football has been a refuge
from his haunting memories of the attack.
He says, as soon as he stepped on the field, his mind cleared --
and he had nothing going on in his mind except his teammates and
playing football.