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Judge rules Cal State Northridge players can face theft trial

Jeffrey Braswell, Deon Tresvant and a third defendant are due in L.A. court on April 1 to face felony charges stemming from an alleged Best Buy electronics theft scheme.

March 18, 2009|Robyn Norwood

As Cal State Northridge's basketball team departed Tuesday for its appearance in the NCAA tournament, a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence for Jeffrey Braswell, the 22-year-old son of Coach Bobby Braswell, and Deon Tresvant, the team's leading scorer until his January arrest, to face trial on felony theft and burglary charges.

The two are due back in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 1 along with actor Phannuel Gbewonyo, 28, who also faces charges in the case. A fourth defendant, freshman guard Dallas Rutherford, earlier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and was sentenced to probation and community service. He has taken a leave from the team.

Neither Tresvant nor Rutherford has played for the Matadors since their arrest, and they did not accompany the team on its trip.

Judge Sanjay T. Kumar denied attorneys' motions at the end of the preliminary hearing that the charges for the three remaining defendants be reduced to misdemeanors.

Robert S. Ernenwein, who represents Gbewonyo, said outside of court that "it is grossly unfair given that the district attorney has allowed Mr. Rutherford to plead to a misdemeanor," when he faced the same charges as Tresvant and Gbewonyo.

Braswell, who was an employee at a Best Buy and allegedly allowed the men to check out without paying, faces the most serious charges. He could face a maximum of five years in state prison if convicted.

"Basically, Mr. Rutherford, he got some favorable treatment," Mark Williams, the attorney for the younger Braswell, said outside of court.

Most of the approximately $6,600 worth of computers, video games and accessories allegedly taken from the store was returned, and the elder Braswell paid an additional $691 in restitution.

Northridge, seeded 15th in the NCAA West Regional, faces second-seeded and No. 3-ranked Memphis on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.

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robynnorwood@verizon.net

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