DALLAS — Six days after one of his key offensive players was arrested for allegedly intimidating a witness to a murder case, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Sunday that he couldn’t really say much about the situation.
“We are fully aware of all proceedings involving Wendell Smallwood and will continue to monitor the situation. To protect the integrity of the criminal proceedings in Delaware, including the state’s case against the unrelated defendant, we cannot comment further at this time,” Holgorsen said in a statement released through the athletic department.
Smallwood, 20, was arrested by the WVU Police Department at the request of the Delaware state attorney general’s office and the Wilmington Police Department, both of which were on campus Monday to first interview and ultimately arrest Smallwood. Smallwood remained in the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County without bond until his extradition paperwork was processed and he was returned Thursday to Wilmington, Delaware.
He was arraigned Friday by Justice of the Peace Court 20 and released on a secured $40,000 bond before returning to West Virginia. He’s charged with an act of intimidation, a class G felony punishable by up to two years in prison.
“Additional information will be available at the conclusion of all proceedings,” Holgorsen wrote. “As a team, we will continue to prepare for the 2014 football season and look forward to the start of camp on July 31.”
Authorities allege Smallwood, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound sophomore positioned for a significant role as a running back and receiver this season, made repeated attempts to have a witness to a 2012 murder recant a statement that implicated Smallwood’s acquaintance, who is charged with first-degree murder.
The alleged acts happened in March and May of 2013. Smallwood enrolled at WVU in January 2013.
Court documents say Smallwood was recorded on at least four prison phone calls last year that support the police department’s claim Smallwood “called to try to get a witness to come and make a false statement to police recanting previous statements.” The conversations with an unnamed inmate believed to be Zakee Lloyd, who is facing trial for a 2012 murder, were recorded after authorities learned a witnesses’ life had been threatened.
The recordings, apparently in reference to a woman who is a state witness, reveal Smallwood saying he “almost got her beat up.” Two months later, the inmate asked Smallwood if anything had developed with the witness. Smallwood said she had changed her phone number, but that he found out where she was working and that someone was looking for her.
“Tell her to go to the police station and tell her we never see her,” the inmate said on the recording.
“I’m going to tell her she’s going to have to go, man,” Smallwood is recorded replying.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blog.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.