AMERICAN FORK Williams Shawn Asiata couldn't have been happier after leaving the 4th District courtroom Wednesday, where charges were dropped in connection with his alleged involvement in a bench-clearing brawl at a prep football game last fall.
"It feels good and it is a blessing," said Asiata, a younger brother of University of Utah running back Matt Asiata. "I have been going through this for eight months now, and it has been stressful. I am excited to just move on and let it go."
The fight took place during the 4A quarterfinal gridiron game between Hunter and American Fork in November.
As promised during a suppression hearing in late May, 4th District Court Judge Howard Maetani dismissed the case against Asiata because the prosecution did not produce the six original videos police claimed to have collected from the fight, despite repeated requests from the defense to do so.
During that hearing in late May, Maetani gave the prosecution 30 days to give the defense the originals, as well as the names and addresses of those who produced the tapes.
"We are glad that Judge Maetani ruled the way he did," Brett Anderson, Asiata's attorney, said. "It is clearly the appropriate way to handle the case, we gave the prosecutor every chance to comply and give us the information. They just willfully refused to reply."
Anderson said that the prosecution provided nothing to them until the 30th day, when he received a letter from them saying in essence that they can't get hold of the original videos. Anderson said the letter was also silent to their request for the names and addresses of those who provided them.
The prosecution argued that their role was not to do the defense attorney's job for him, saying that the videos were inculpatory evidence and not exculpatory. But Maetani insisted that he heard the same argument a month earlier and that he would honor the commitment he made in May to dismiss the case if the evidence was not presented.
"I think there was no evidence that could help the prosecution, only evidence that could hurt them; otherwise, it would have easily been produced," said Anderson.
Asiata, 19, had been accused of simple assault, a class B misdemeanor, for allegedly kicking one of the football players twice in the head during the fight. Asiata is from West Valley City and is a former student at Hunter.
Another issue of the defense's case was that two witness statements in the file from game officials said an American Fork assistant coach had attempted to hit a Hunter assistant during the melee but ended up striking another official in the head. However, criminal charges were filed only against Asiata and a juvenile who also was from Hunter.
"There was nobody on the American Fork side that was charged, in spite of the fact that the Utah High School Athletic Association suspended many of the players on the team," said Anderson. "Really that is who should have taken this case in the first place, the UHSAA."
Anderson thinks that prosecutors decided to charge out-of-town visitors, as opposed to the local person. Now after the many delays that have taken place, he is just happy for Asiata to move on."He is a good kid, he really is, you can just tell by getting to know him," Anderson said. "These charges were just ridiculous."