Eight charges of attempted strangulation and battery were abruptly dismissed Wednesday against the 1987 Big Sky Conference basketball player of the year.
The dismissal of the case against Arnell Jones, 49, caught the judge handling the case by surprise.
“You’re going to dismiss the entire case?” asked Ada County District Judge Cheri Copsey.
“Yes, because of recent developments in the case with the victim, I have to file a motion to dismiss,” Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Tessie Buttram said.
Buttram did not offer any additional details. She could not be reached immediately later Wednesday for an explanation. Don Copple, a Boise lawyer representing Jones, declined comment.
Jones was accused of beating the victim in a domestic abuse case during six incidents that prosecutors alleged took place in Boise between April 2 and June 23.
He choked the woman on two occasions, punched her in the face, kicked her in the leg and twice punched her in the eye, according to an indictment issued in July.
Jones, a member of the Boise State University Athletic Hall of Fame, was arrested the day the indictment was issued. He remained in the Ada County Jail until Sept. 10, a day after the judge reduced his bail from $1 million to $150,000. He was scheduled to go to trial Nov. 2.
The defense sought the purported victim’s cellphone and medical records, according to an online case summary. On Sept. 17, the judge ordered the woman’s medical records to be delivered for private examination in the judge’s chambers. The next day, Copsey ordered the woman’s cellphone to be seized and handed over to the defense for forensic examination.
Wednesday’s dismissals came three weeks after prosecutors sought dismissal of two of the battery charges. They were not dropped until Wednsday’s hearing, along with all of the other charges.
The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors could refile charges later. Copple said he did not expect that to happen.
Jones played for the Broncos for two seasons after earning junior college All-America honors with San Jose City. He is considered one of the top basketball players in Boise State history. The forward is one of only four conference MVPs in school history, having led the Broncos to a Big Sky Conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 1988. He led the nation in field goal shooting during the 1987-88 season, finished his two seasons with 967 points and 462 rebounds, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
He has had previous run-ins with the law, including a 1988 assault charge in Garden City. He later pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and paid a $139 fine.
Jones pleaded guilty to battery in a 1995 Boise case. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail for that, with all but three days suspended.
In 2001 and 2002, he was found guilty of selling alcohol to minors at a bar he owned, Shorty’s C&W Saloon.
From 2002 to 2005, Jones operated the Les Bois Park horse racing track under contract with Ada County. The county later suspended the track’s liquor license after learning of Jones’ convictions in the Shorty’s cases. Unsafe track conditions at the time also led to at least two walkouts by jockeys. The county ultimately revoked its contract with Jones after financial disputes and allegations that Jones had failed to maintain the track.