SEATTLE — Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar formally pled not guilty to four counts of armed robbery Tuesday, according to his attorney Michael Grieco.
The filing occurred in Broward (Fla.) County Circuit Court, and while the move was the expected next step in the process, it’s one that Grieco says continues to show his confidence that his client will be exonerated fully.
Dunbar was freed from Broward County jail after posting $100,000 bond Sunday night after having turned himself in on Saturday on four counts of armed robbery related to an incident Wednesday night in Miramar, Fla.
New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker has also officially pled not guilty to eight counts — four of armed robbery and four of aggravated assault with a firearm — in the same incident in which it was alleged that the two men, and another who has not been identified, took $12,000 in cash and $61,000 in watches/jewelry at a party that included a high-stakes dice game. Witness statements conflicted on whether Dunbar had a gun. Baker’s alleged use of a gun led to his four additional charges. No shots were fired.
Grieco asked for a jury trial for Dunbar. Baker’s lawyer, Bradford Cohen, also asked for a jury trial.
There is no date set for a next court hearing but Grieco says one could occur within the next three weeks or so.
The case is now in the hands of the state prosecutor, who will decide if the case should go forward.
Grieco said in a phone interview Tuesday that his hope remains that the state may not ultimately pursue the case due in large part to Grieco having produced five affidavits from four victims and one witness who say that Dunbar did not take part in any criminal activity that night.
Grieco also says there is no video of the incident, saying he has visited the home in recent days and none has been found. He also said no weapons have been found, or any audio.
The lack of any tangible evidence in video or otherwise, plus the recantation of stories from those who were the basis of the original police report, provides Grieco not just with his defense of Dunbar but what he says is proof of his client’s innocence. Grieco revealed the existence of sworn affidavits from the witnesses changing their story on Friday.
Broward County assistant state attorney Aaron Passy called the affidavits “suspect” and wondered aloud during Sunday’s bond hearing whether the witnesses “were receiving death threats or offers or bribes.”
But Grieco countered that the witnesses came to him and that the affidavits were signed “in the presence of a notary. This was not some back alley. This was in my office.”
Grieco said “once in every five years” he encounters a case where he has “exculpatory evidence or witnesses” who can prove that a client is innocent. “And this is one of those times where I am able to provide them with a decent amount of exculpatory evidence,” he said. “And that’s a nice position to be in.”
Grieco also said that he can disprove what was the state’s motive for the crime, that Dunbar and Baker had suffered roughly $70,000 in gambling losses two days earlier and were attempting to get that back. The police report cited a witness saying three cars were positioned for a quick getaway as evidence that the robbery was planned.
“Categorically deny it,” Grieco said. “And I can establish that he had never met those guys before and I can establish his whereabouts on the evening they say he was gambling.”
Grieco hopes that may lead to a decision to close the case and that the state would say “we move on.”
“This isn’t just a situation where you are asking for them to say you don’t have enough to go forward. We are literally providing evidence of innocence.”
But until the state decides one way or the other, the case will hang over Dunbar, who was one of the Seahawks’ key offseason acquisitions, acquired in a trade with Washington for a fifth-round pick and expected to take over the starting right cornerback spot.
Baker was reported as filing a motion to be able to travel out of Florida, as needed. Grieco said Dunbar “has the same conditions” indicating he also can travel. Both had initially been ruled not being allowed to travel out of state during the pre-trial process.
But for now, that’s not necessary as NFL teams are still not allowed to meet at team facilities and there may be no on-field work allowed until at least July, when training camps begin.
Dunbar talked to reporters who cover the Seahawks via Zoom last Thursday from his home in the Miami area and is still taking part in Seahawks team meetings virtually.
Dunbar issued a statement Sunday saying he apologized to the Seahawks “for any unnecessary distractions that these allegations against me may have caused. … Moving forward, this entire situation has taught me how to not associate myself with environments that may mischaracterize my values and who I am.”
Grieco said Dunbar is “holding up fine. … he believes in the system and he’s looking forward to clearing his name and getting out to Seattle.”