Former Boise State defensive tackle Dereck Boles was found not guilty on a felony mayhem charge Thursday.
A jury deliberated for nearly two hours and rendered the verdict to end the four-day trial at the Ada County Courthouse. The incident involving Boise State football players took place Feb. 12, 2016, at a house party in Boise.
Boles was charged in May 2016 for biting off a portion of safety Chanceller James’ ear in an altercation, which stemmed from a morning workout Feb. 11 in which James said Boles had argued with a member of the strength and conditioning staff. The team was forced to do additional work after the outburst.
James needed reconstructive surgery to repair the injury, which took off about a third of the top of his left ear.
Joe Miller, an attorney for Boles, said Boles acted in self defense. Boles declined an interview afterward, but Miller spoke on his behalf.
“It went exactly the way we expected it to go. We expected justice would be done and justice was done,” Miller said.
According to Idaho statutes, mayhem is defined as “Every person who unlawfully and maliciously deprives a human being of a member of his body, or disables, disfigures or renders it useless, or cuts out or disables the tongue, puts out an eye, slits the nose, ear or lip, is guilty of mayhem.” The maximum punishment is 14 years in state prison.
Multiple current and former Boise State players were called as witnesses during the trial, including junior quarterback Brett Rypien, who drove James to the hospital. James and Boles admitted to drinking that night, while Rypien was one of a few sober witnesses, according to court information.
“The state had to prove Dereck maliciously and he acted unlawfully. We were able to show from the evidence, numerous witnesses, players on the team, that Dereck did not act maliciously that night and he acted lawfully in the sense he defended himself,” Miller said.
Boise State dismissed Boles from the team soon after the incident, while James was suspended for the season opener Sept. 3 at Louisiana. James was not made available to the media all of last year, his senior season. He started the final 12 games and led the team with three interceptions.
Boles, who redshirted in 2014 and played in all 13 games in 2015 for the Broncos, transferred to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College and played there last season. The Lakeland, Fla., native verbally committed to Florida International, but did not sign in February. He reportedly set up a visit with South Florida earlier this month.
“It’s affected him more than anybody will ever know,” Miller said. “It’s had a tremendous impact. I’d say it’s been living a nightmare the past year for Dereck.”