August 17, 2007

The Case Against Vick

The evidence is apparently overwhelming, and now all Michael Vick and his attorneys can do is negotiate how much time he'll do.


On Friday morning, the last two of Michael Vick's co-defendants in a federal dogfighting case -- Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace -- pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. They now add their names and their knowledge to testimony from four cooperating witnesses and Tony Taylor, a co-defendant who earlier agreed to testify against Vick. With the evidence piling up against the Atlanta Falcons' quarterback, where does that leave the case? Here are the latest questions and answers.

Now that they have pleaded guilty, what do Peace and Phillips provide to the government's case against Vick that wasn't there before?

Both of Vick's former cohorts in the alleged dogfighting scheme will bring dramatic and powerful testimony against Vick. The most difficult testimony for Vick to counter will be Peace's description of a doubleheader dogfight in March 2003. According to the "Summary of the Facts" that Peace signed as part of his plea agreement, Vick and Peace entered two dogs from Bad Newz Kennels in that fight. Both lost. If the Vick case goes to trial, Peace will testify in front of the judge and jury that he and Vick "executed the dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal." That isn't all. Peace and Phillips will describe eight more executions during 2004 and 2005, all of them occurring on Vick's compound in Surry County, Va. All eight dogs flunked fighting tests. Some were drowned. Others were hung. And one was killed -- with Vick allegedly present -- by "slamming its body into the ground."

When testimony from Peace and Phillips is added to the testimony from Taylor, the government's case against Vick appears to be overwhelming. The seven witnesses can describe the alleged dogfighting scheme from its inception in 2001, less than eight weeks after Vick signed his first NFL contract, to its demise three months ago when police raided Vick's compound in rural Surry County. The seven witnesses allegedly can describe Vick building the dogfighting facility, buying dogs, breeding dogs, training dogs, betting on dogs, paying for everything and participating in gruesome executions of losing dogs.

I look forward to the day ESPN adds a new channel to their cable slate, with its own accompanying website, called ESPN Court TV, and all of the stories like this that dominate the main channel and site can go elsewhere, and we can watch and read about games of skill.

A quick look over at at the top ten bulleted items on a typical Friday night (which doesn't include the Vick story) shows that fully half of them - the dirty NBA ref case; an NBA player's reckless driving, an NHL player's gambling involvement, a baseball player's bat attack, and a boxer fined for a weigh in brawl (say it isn't so) - tell of sports intersecting with law-breaking. I've got no sweeping social insight or comment on this reality. I just find it tiresome, and I'd like my sports back, please.

Posted by dan at August 17, 2007 8:15 PM