|Punter Mitch Cozad, convicted of assault, to learn sentence Tuesday|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 01 October 2007 10:50|
DENVER (AP) -Mitch Cozad spends his days in jail reading the Bible and playing chess. Once he's out, he envisions a career as a lawyer.|
Cozad, a former punter for Northern Colorado, recently was convicted of assault in a stabbing attack on starter Rafael Mendoza a year ago. He will learn his sentence Tuesday.
The 22-year-old player faces between five and 16 years in prison. He's being held in the Weld County jail in Greeley, not far from where the crime took place.
``Mitchell is trying to make the best of his hard situation,'' said Cozad's fiance, Michelle Weydert, who has been in touch with The Associated Press by e-mail and phone. ``Where he is living now, the conditions are difficult.''
Weydert has moved in with Cozad's mother, Suzanne Cozad, in Wheatland, Wyo.
``We, as a family, have built a support system because there are good days and then there are down days,'' Suzanne Cozad said. ``The support system is to help each other through it. We believe in him and love him. He is a good and honorable man. He has his life ahead of him and has much to offer society.''
Weydert said Tuesday's sentencing will be a difficult day for the family, but ``whatever happens we are ready to move forward. We are praying for wisdom and compassion.''
District Attorney Kenneth Buck did not immediately return a call.
Cozad was convicted Aug. 9, and since his imprisonment he's lost weight and injured his back, Weydert said. He calls frequently and Weydert and Suzanne Cozad see him at least three times a week. But never in person, only through a video monitor at the jail.
``The days we see Mitch is a good day,'' his mother said. ``Even if we see him for only 30 minutes, just to see him brightens my day.''
Yet talking to him through a television screen is painful.
``I would love to hold him, but right now I can't,'' Weydert said. ``Just to see him puts a smile on my face. I love him so much.''
A jury convicted Cozad of second-degree assault but acquitted him of the more serious charge of attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing on Sept. 11, 2006. He could have faced up to 48 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder.
Prosecutors argued that Cozad stabbed Mendoza because he was ``obsessed with being the starting punter'' and ``the big man on campus.''
Cozad's mother disputed those notions, saying ``he's an easygoing kid.''
Weydert said Cozad prepares a Bible study every night and then goes over it with his mother when she visits. Cozad, a political science major, wants to pursue a law degree, Weydert added.
Cozad could apply for a law license even if his conviction stands, said John Gleason, the Colorado Supreme Court's attorney regulation counsel.
``We'd look at the nature of the crime and the sentence. We'd look at everything,'' Gleason said. ``But it's not entirely impossible.''
Weydert is taking online courses this semester and will go back to college next semester, once it's clear where Cozad will serve his sentence. She is majoring in education.
``Mitch and I think it is important to have college education,'' Weydert said.
Weydert first met Cozad in math class at the University of Wyoming her freshman year. She was a volleyball player and he was a punter with the Cowboys, although he never made it onto the depth chart.
It wasn't until she was sitting in the dining hall, with two black eyes, that they finally spoke. Weydert had collided with another player during a volleyball tournament, sustaining a concussion and ``raccoon eyes.'' Cozad asked about her injuries.
``I told him, 'If you think I'm bad, you should see the other girl,''' Weydert said. ``We laughed and talked about what happened.''
Soon, they began dating. A year later, Cozad asked Weydert's parents for permission to marry their daughter. He proposed in a Laramie, Wyo., restaurant.
``It was very romantic,'' Weydert said.
One of their favorite ``date nights'' was going to movies.
``He likes action movies,'' she said. ``We like to see all the new movies that come out.''
These days, she simply looks forward to visits and his phone calls.
``I love hearing Mitchell's voice,'' Weydert said. ``It gets me through another day.''
``I believe in Mitch,'' she added. ``I plan on having a life with him. And whatever happens this Tuesday - like I tell Mitch every day, 'I am right beside you the whole way.'''
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