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Archive for Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Former punter surrenders to police

Cozad faces attempted murder charge for attack on teammate

October 24, 2006

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— A former Northern Colorado backup punter charged with attempted murder in the stabbing of his rival surrendered to authorities Monday.

Mitchell Cozad was released on $500,000 bail. He is tentatively scheduled for a hearing Nov. 6, the district attorney's office said.

Cozad surrendered in Loveland, about 20 miles from Greeley, district attorney spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said.

The 21-year-old player is accused of stabbing starter Rafael Mendoza in his kicking leg last month.

Cozad, of Wheatland, Wyo., faces charges of attempted first-degree murder and second-degree assault and could be sentenced to 48 years in prison if convicted. He has been suspended from the team and the university.

"The judicial system will do what it does," said Jay Hinrichs, Northern Colorado athletic director and former director of Kansas University's Williams Fund. "District Attorney Kenneth Buck has his job to do."

Cozad's lawyer, Joseph A. Gavaldon, didn't immediately return calls.

Mendoza was attacked outside his apartment complex in Evans, a town adjacent to Greeley, on Sept. 11. Evans Police Lt. Gary Kessler has said the motive appeared to be competition for the starting job.

Mendoza sustained a 3- to 5-inch puncture wound. He returned to the team and last week and averaged a career-high 47.8 yards on 10 punts, including a career-best 75-yarder in a loss to Eastern Washington.

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