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Former punter surrenders in stabbing case

October 24, 2006|From the Associated Press

GREELEY, Colo. — 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, 21, surrendered in Loveland, about 20 miles from Greeley. He 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.

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

Mendoza was attacked Sept. 11 outside his apartment complex in Evans, a town adjacent to Greeley. Evans police have said the motive appeared to be competition for the starting job as punter of the school's football team.

Investigators have said they were looking for an accomplice, but authorities have declined to say whether other arrests have been made.

Mendoza suffered a three-inch to five-inch puncture wound. He returned to the team and last week averaged a career-high 47.8 yards on 10 punts, including a career-best 75-yard punt in Northern Colorado's 34-0 loss to Eastern Washington.

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