Dalvin Cook turned, smiled and reached out to shake hands with his legal team of Ricky Patel and Joey McCall.
At the same time, a Leon County Sheriff’s deputy had to ask Cook’s grandmother, Betty Cook, and her family to calm down.
The cause of the celebration: The jury needed less than 25 minutes Monday to find Cook not guilty of misdemeanor battery, a verdict that restores the Florida State running back’s promising football career.
Cook, a sophomore from Miami Central who led the Seminoles in rushing last season, will rejoin the team and likely regain his starting position in the Seminoles’ backfield.
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“I’m just thankful and blessed the truth came out,” Cook said. “It’s time to go to work, back to the field. I’ve been working, but now it’s time to get at it.”
Cook was indefinitely suspended on July 10 after being charged for allegedly punching Madison Geohegan, 21, outside Clyde’s & Costello’s bar in Tallahassee on June 23. The university issued a statement following the verdict saying Cook’s “indefinite suspension from the team has been lifted, and he will be eligible to practice and to compete … effective immediately.”
Geohegan, from Tallahassee, claimed Cook bloodied her lip with a punch to her face after she said he was “nice” to her as he tried to diffuse an argument she was having with Da’Vante Phillips, who Cook calls his brother. Phillips was raised by Betty Cook.
She identified Cook four days later from a photo on the Instagram account of sophomore receiver Travis Rudolph, the former Cardinal Newman standout.
“From the beginning, we said we weren’t going to take any pleas, and the reason for that was if you know Dalvin, you know one thing, this is completely out of character,” Patel said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Patel said Geohegan already has a civil attorney.
Assistant State Attorney Sarah Kathryn Dugan tried the case for the state.
“You never know what a jury is going to do,” Dugan said. “I’m confident in the case that we put on. … I still believe Madison and find her very credible.”
The case, tried in the Leon County Courthouse, lasted close to 10 hours. The state called eight witnesses, the defense called one. But that one might have been the most important of the day. Grant Jenkins, a 22-year-old Florida State finance major who was at Clyde’s that night, said he stopped with his friends to watch the incident as it unfolded.
Jenkins said he left the scene at the same time as Cook and his teammates, and he never saw Cook punch or strike Geohegan.
“I saw nothing happen, so I walked away,” Jenkins said. “I would not have walked away from a girl I saw got hit.”
Dugan tried to argue that Jenkins was not credible. He “is a fan who came out of the woodwork because he wants to be involved,” she told the jury.
When asked about the witness following the trial, Dugan said: “I thought it was very strange and uncommon.”
Cook, wearing a black suit with a white dress shirt and charcoal striped tie, sat next to his attorneys and showed little to no emotion throughout the day. He did not testify.
In his closing arguments, McCall emphasized that because of the inconsistencies “it doesn’t add up.” He pointed to the fact that Geohegan did not need medical attention, her friend and biggest witness admitted to being intoxicated and even Geohegan said she was “pretty buzzed” the night of the incident.
He questioned the injury saying “nothing is consistent on that photo with a punch” pointing out there was no bruising, no swelling and her upper lip was not affected.
This was after responding officer, Matthew Smidt of the Tallahassee Police Department, was asked if Geohegan’s injuries were consistent with being punched by 215-pound football player.
“To me, no, it did not look like she got hit with a fist in the face,” he said.
Rudolph, Phillips and Deondre Francois were with Cook the night of the incident and were called as witnesses. The players all testified that they were not drinking.
Geohegan admitted to striking Rudolph, saying she pushed him “hard” after Rudolph said her boyfriend — Auburn defensive back T.J. Davis from Tallahassee — was cheating on her.
She said Rudolph, “just walked away.”
Geohegan testified that Cook “was trying to calm the situation” after she got into a shouting match with Phillips after Phillips was told she had a boyfriend.
“I try to set a good example,” Cook said. “I know what I was doing that night, I was making peace.”