Charges dropped against WVU running back Smallwood
Witness intimidation charges against Wendell Smallwood were dropped Tuesday after the West Virginia running back testified against a suspect who subsequently pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Justice said: “Since his arrest, Wendell Smallwood has been fully cooperative with the Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department including giving a full statement regarding his involvement in witness intimidation. He was fully prepared to testify truthfully in the upcoming trial, and his cooperation was instrumental to the State in securing today's conviction of Zakee Lloyd.
“There is no evidence of Smallwood's involvement in the murder of (the victim) Manuel Oliveras. Moreover, despite the recorded phone call between Smallwood and Lloyd, there is no evidence that it resulted in a threat being conveyed to that witness.”
Lloyd pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just before jury selection was to begin for a trial on first-degree murder charges.
WVU spokesman Mike Montoro said in an email Wednesday that coach Dana Holgorsen “confirmed” Smallwood will be on hand when the Mountaineers start fall practice Thursday.
Holgorsen did not comment on whether Smallwood would be suspended.
Smallwood was arrested in West Virginia on July 14 and extradited to Delaware, his home state. Wilmington police alleged Smallwood contacted a witness to a 2012 murder committed by Lloyd and attempted to coerce her to recant her statement to police. A Wilmington police spokesman said at the time that Smallwood threatened the woman with physical harm.
A 5-foot-11, 202-pound sophomore, Smallwood is expected to be a major part of the offense this season. He averaged 5.7 yards on 39 carries and caught 11 passes for 132 yards in 2013. He also averaged 18 yards on 30 kickoff returns.
Bob Cohn is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.