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SDSU's Gerald Murray Suspended From Team : Aztec Basketball Center Again Is Arrested for Drug Violations, Is Out Indefinitely

November 26, 1987|CURT HOLBREICH | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Gerald Murray, a center on the San Diego State basketball team, has been suspended indefinitely from the team after his arrest on suspicion of drug violations, it was announced Wednesday.

Murray was arrested by San Diego police Tuesday night and booked on two counts of suspicion of selling a controlled substance and suspicion of conspiracy to sell a controlled substance, police said.

He was arrested after he sold an unspecified quantity of rock cocaine to an undercover officer, police said. It was the second time Murray was arrested on suspicion of drug violations since the school year began.

The suspension was announced in a joint news release by SDSU's athletic director, Fred Miller, and basketball coach, Jim Brandenburg. "If the charges against him are accurate, we find Murray's actions reprehensible," Miller said in the release.

Murray, a 6-foot 8-inch senior from Detroit, had returned to practice Monday after he missed the previous week for treatment of hemorrhoids, Brandenburg said. Brandenburg had expected Murray to be the starting center when the Aztecs open their season Friday against Kansas State in the first round of the Sun Met tournament in Fresno.

The loss of Murray means that Mitch McMullen, a junior transfer from College of the Canyons in Valencia, will start at center, Brandenburg said.

"We will miss Gerald because he was our most experienced player," Brandenburg said. "We'll just have to rely on Mitch and some of the younger guys."

Unable to post the $10,000 bail, Murray was being held at the San Diego County jail Wednesday night, said his lawyer, Ronald M. Frant of San Diego.

Murray, 22, was arrested at the Town & Country Hotel in Mission Valley at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. His arrest occurred while the school was holding its football team banquet in another part of the hotel complex. Brandenburg attended the banquet but did not learn of the arrest until he returned home.

Police said that Thomas Russell, 25, and Samuel J. Richardson, 26, both of San Diego, also were arrested in connection with the investigation. Russell was arrested on suspicion of sale of cocaine and Richards on two counts of suspicion of sale of rock cocaine, police said. Richards also was arrested for a suspicion of a probation violation and being a former felon in possession of a gun, police said.

Richardson, whose bail has been set at $5,000, remained in county jail Wednesday night, according to a jail spokeswoman. She said Russell had been released on $3,000 bail.

The arrest of Murray followed an investigation that began Sept. 1 when Murray was arrested in a raid of an off-campus apartment in East San Diego, police said. Police have said they seized 3.2 ounces of rock cocaine valued at nearly $4,000; a hand gun; $5,600 in cash, and a police scanner in the raid. Also arrested at that time were Murray's girlfriend, Natosha Plousha, 22, and a 17-year-old male.

The San Diego district attorney's office announced Oct. 7 that it had declined to file charges against Murray or Plousha. It was after the first arrest that police and the district attorney's office decided to conduct an investigation "to discover Murray's extent of trafficking and, if possible, identify his sources of supply of cocaine," police said Tuesday.

Police said an undercover officer twice purchased rock cocaine from Murray during the investigation and that Murray was arrested after the second sale.

Murray also has a hearing scheduled Dec. 2 on a Jan. 2 arrest for solicitation of a lewd act in public.

Murray led SDSU in rebounding last season with an average of 7.9 per game. He also averaged 10.1 points. But he has struggled to lose weight since he reported to the first day of practice on Oct. 15, when he weighed more than 300 pounds.

His lack of conditioning limited his playing time to 21 minutes in an exhibition game against the Soviet national team Nov. 10. Murray had his 8 points and 4 rebounds in the first half.

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