Openings to begin in trial of NBA players accused of assault

PHOENIX (AP) NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris go on trial Monday on felony assault charges stemming from a beating outside a Phoenix recreation center more than two years ago.

The twin brothers could face a maximum of nearly four years in prison if they are found guilty. A conviction would also result in discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10 games of suspension.

Opening arguments begin Monday following the selection of an eight-member jury panel last week in what is expected to be a 10-day trial.

The trial threatens to disrupt the start of their 2017 NBA season with training camp set to begin for both players on Sept. 26. The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from Detroit in the offseason as part of an overhaul of their roster, while Markieff was a solid contributor for the Washington Wizards last year.

The Morris brothers are accused of helping three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015. They were indicted by an Arizona grand jury that year on felony aggravated assault charges. Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.

Police say Hood was leaving a high school basketball game when he was approached by a friend of the Morris brothers. Hood told Phoenix police the man was speaking to him when he was punched in the back of the head.

Hood ran to his car but fell down, before five men, including the Morris twins, punched and kicked him repeatedly, authorities say. All five left in a Rolls Royce Phantom as bystanders began to appear. Police say Hood was assaulted for sending an inappropriate text message to the Morris brothers’ mother.

Hood told police he suffered a fractured nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head because of the incident.

Hood is an acquaintance of the Morris brothers and reportedly had a falling out with them in 2010.

At the time of the attack, the 6-foot-9 Morris twins were teammates on the Phoenix Suns. They starred at the University of Kansas.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points last season in Detroit, where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. He joins Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as a group of new acquisitions for Boston this year. Markieff also averaged 14 points per game for the Wizards.

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