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Tech’s Holmes guilty of reduced charge

CHRISTIANSBURG - Virginia Tech rising sophomore tailback Michael Holmes was found guilty of a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault and battery Thursday at Montgomery County District Court.

Two other misdemeanor assault charges against Holmes, stemming from the same April incident, were dismissed.

“I just wish none of this would have ever happened,” Holmes said. “I think I defended myself, but I did it too much. I have to suffer the consequences. I have to pay for my actions.”

Judge Gino Williams placed Holmes, who has been suspended indefinitely from the Tech football team since his arrest April 21, on 12 months’ probation, instructed him not to have contact with any of the victims in the case, and ordered him to pay $13,403 in restitution to victim Antoine Barnes.

“I hate that he was convicted of anything,” Holmes’ attorney, Jimmy Turk, said. “He was defending himself. … Michael said all along, he never hit anyone who didn’t hit him first.”

Holmes originally was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, a felony, and two counts of simple assault, after an altercation at the 200 block of College Avenue early Sunday morning, April 21.

Holmes pled not guilty to the amended charge but stipulated the commonwealth’s attorney had sufficient evidence for a conviction on the misdemeanor assault charge for his actions towards Antoine Barnes.

Under Virginia Tech’s athletic department policy, because Holmes is no longer facing a felony charge, athletics director Jim Weaver can review Holmes’ situation to determine if he will be reinstated. Weaver could not be reached Thursday.

Holmes, who wore a blue button-down shirt, tie and khakis, said he hopes to return to the football team and play this fall.

“Most definitely,” Holmes said. “I definitely want to be back on the team. If not, I’ll have to move on to what’s next.”

The April incident apparently started when Holmes’ girlfriend, Karoline Seekford, was assaulted by one of Holmes’ ex girlfriends, Ciara Simms, a sophomore sprinter on the Virginia Tech track team, and her friend, Kierra Barnes.

Turk said a “blurry video” of the incident backed up Holmes’ and Seekford’s version of the events.

The altercation escalated to include Holmes and Barnes’ cousin, Antoine Barnes, who ended up suffering a broken cheek bone, black eye and bruised ribs, Kierra Barnes said Thursday.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt released a statement saying Holmes initially was “justified” in defending himself and his girlfriend in the incident, but “exceeded” what was reasonable force in the situation.

Misdemeanor assault charges against Kierra Barnes, Simms and Seekford all were dismissed.

Richard Barnes, Antoine’s uncle and Kierra’s father, was not satisfied with the case’s outcome and has filed a $25,000 civil suit against Holmes. Richard Barnes said Holmes struck Kierra Barnes, breaking her nose. She said she will have surgery in July because of her injuries. She showed photographs of her injuries and Antoine Barnes’ injuries to reporters at the courthouse Thursday.

“He’s a danger to society,” Richard Barnes said. “He did it once and he’ll do it again. … I don’t think he should ever be able to play football again.”

Holmes and Turk deny Holmes ever struck Kierra Barnes. Holmes said he did not know how Barnes suffered her facial injuries.

“It was a scruffle,” Holmes said. “It was kind of a blur, hard to tell how people got hurt.”

He was only convicted of assaulting Antoine Barnes.

Holmes is a candidate to be the Hokies’ starting tailback this season if he’s allowed back on the team.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Harrisonburg native started five games last year, finishing the season with 280 yards and four touchdowns.

Holmes suffered a thigh contusion in practice the week of the Nov. 8 game against Florida State. This spring, he competed with redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds and sophomore J.C. Coleman for the starting job.