Panthers: No change in Greg Hardy status after charges dismissed
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers have issued a statement about defensive end Greg Hardy after charges in his domestic violence case were dismissed Monday morning when the victim in the case didn't show up for court.
"We are aware of the decision by the district attorney's office to dismiss charges against Greg Hardy," a team spokesperson released Monday afternoon. "Greg remains on the Commissioner's Exempt List and the NFL has advised us to allow it to complete its review under the Personal Conduct Policy. There is no change in his status at this time."
League officials told WBTV Monday afternoon Hardy's status with the league "remains unchanged until we fully review the matter."
Panthers fans are divided on whether Hardy should play for the team again.
"He should be given the opportunity to work again if he went through the proper legal steps," Casey Lloyd said. " I can see the Panthers wanting to separate themselves from him. I can see that. I mean there's two sides to every coin but he deserves the right to work if he went through the proper steps."
Greg Hardy arrived at a Mecklenburg County courthouse Monday morning to face charges of assaulting a female and communicating threats after he's accused of attacking his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, inside his uptown Charlotte condo last May.
Hardy was facing a judge for a second time on the charges after he was found guilty in a bench trial in July. He immediately appealed and requested the case be heard before a jury in Superior Court.
In North Carolina, defendants convicted in District Court have a right to a jury trial in Superior Court. Under state law, Greg Hardy's earlier conviction has been wiped away.
The state asked for the charges to be dismissed after Holder didn't make herself available for the trial. She was not able to be located in order to serve, court officials said.
District Attorney Andrew Murray told the judge his office went through "great lengths" to track Nicole Holder down. When she didn't show up for court Monday, Murray says it appears she intentionally made herself unavailable to the State.
"Prosecutors last spoke with the victim in October and November 2014," a written statement from the DA's office stated. "During those conversations, the victim expressed that she did not want to participate in another trial. The District Attorney's Office has not been able to reach the victim since November 2014."
He said said the state visited her home, employer and even put surveillance on a new home where she was believed to be living. Murray said it would not be just or appropriate to move the case forward without Holder.
In North Carolina, the state could continue without a domestic violence victim, but case would be much weaker. There were inconsistencies that troubled first judge in the July bench trial.
"We are committed to stopping domestic violence," Murray said. "But we also want victims to come forward and cooperate."
The State said it had reliable information that Holder reached a settlement before the trial began. The judge granted the prosecutor's request for a dismissal on the assault on a female and communicating threats charges.
Many questioned if Holder could face legal issues for not showing up to court Monday.
"She would have had to comply with the subpoena, if she was served, but unfortunately we were unable to serve her," Murray said.
Murray stressed that they want to encourage all domestic violence victims to come forward. He added they need to report what happened and to participate in every level of the prosecution.
As Hardy walked out of the courtroom, he was met by a gaggle of media from across the nation.
When asked what he would say to critics that say he paid her off, he didn't answer. He didn't say anything as he walked to his waiting car and was driven away.
After the initial bench trial in July, the 26-year-old was suspended from the Carolina Panthers for all but one game in 2014. In September, the team announced that Hardy would take a voluntary leave of absence with pay until his legal proceedings were resolved.
Hardy was placed on the NFL's Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List, which is a special player status available to teams only in unusual circumstances.
During the 2014 season, the Panthers continued to pay Hardy $13.1 million.
Hardy is expected to become a free agent this season, the free agency season starts in mid-March.
Should the team should move on from Hardy?
"A guy who beats up his wife or his girlfriend and cuts the person a check is not kosher," one fan said. "Just because a guy has money doesn't make him an innocent man."
But James Smith in Charlotte believes Hardy should play for the team again.
"I think he should be because the mistakes people make everybody makes them," Smith said. "Even though they came up with laws and rules that say you get suspended for a couple of days once you do domestic violence, I think he served his time."
"Even though we don't know if he's still innocent or guilty - the charges were dismissed. And, people think since some of the legal problems are gone, maybe that opens the door to him coming back, " WFNZ's Chris Kroeger said. "People are interested - not in the details of the story because that's kind of played out at this point - they're interested in how it affects football. Wins and losses."
Kroeger, the host of 'Primetime' sports talk, doesn't think Hardy will be back with the team.
"I go back to Rae Carruth and Fred Lane," Kroeger said. "Two higher profile Panthers players that had incidents with domestic violence and again I know Greg technically wasn't found guilty today - charges were dismissed - but he's still linked to that."
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