Judge sets robbery trial of Auburn's McNeil
A former Auburn safety will go on trial next week on robbery charges, despite his attorney's request for a delay because of recent articles about the player and university, a judge ruled Friday.OPELIKA, Ala. -- A former Auburn safety will go on trial next week on robbery charges, despite his attorney's request for a delay because of recent articles about the player and the university, a judge ruled Friday.
Mike McNeil, the starting safety on Auburn's 2010 national championship team, was charged in a 2011 armed home invasion in which three of his teammates were also arrested. His attorney, Ben Hand, said the trial should be delayed because allegations made in the stories could be important to McNeil.
Earlier this week, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said the school was reviewing allegations of NCAA rules violations in the football program during its 2010 season but doesn't believe they're credible.
Jacobs issued a statement Thursday in response to a report by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts that was posted on www.roopstigo.com. The story quoted McNeil and former teammate Darvin Adams alleging they received or were offered money from coaches. McNeil said he had a grade changed to stay eligible.
Hand also cited a report Thursday by ESPN.com alleging widespread use of synthetic marijuana by Auburn players.
Jacobs said in a statement the school had administered 2,500-plus drug tests since synthetic marijuana was included among its banned substances in August 2011, and only had three positive tests.
McNeil declined comment while at the courthouse.
Hand said McNeil, who is charged with two counts of robbery, refused to accept a plea bargain that would have resulted in him serving a three-year prison sentence.
"He's turned that down because he says he's innocent," Hand said. "If he says he's innocent, then I'm going to defend him and take care of him as best I can."
Prosecutors objected to any delay in the trial or a new location, and the judge told lawyers to plan on beginning the case Monday.
McNeil's lawyer also tried to withdraw from the case, though his motion did not say why. The judge refused to let Hand drop McNeil as a client.
Former Auburn player Antonio Goodwin was convicted last year and is in prison. The other two former players have not gone to trial.
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