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Posted on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Michigan safety Josh Furman found not guilty on all charges related to February arrest

By Kyle Feldscher

See related story: Brady Hoke: Josh Furman's status with Michigan football team 'still being evaluated'

This story was updated at 4:02 p.m.

University of Michigan sophomore safety Josh Furman was found not guilty Thursday on all three criminal charges he faced related to a Feb. 11 incident on State Street.


Josh Furman

Furman had been charged with domestic violence, assault and battery and illegal entry after he attempted to confront a man who had been sending explicit text messages to him regarding his ex-girlfriend. The ruling was handed down by 15th District Court Chief Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines, who said she could not rule without a reasonable doubt that Furman’s actions that night were criminal.

Gerry Mason, Furman’s lawyer, said the charges and subsequent suspension from the football team had weighed heavily on his client. Mason and Furman had declined a plea offer to be convicted of domestic violence with the opportunity to be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, because Furman would have been removed from the football team.

“He said, ‘Try it. I didn’t do this,’” Mason said. Furman declined to speak to reporters when leaving the courtroom Thursday morning.

Furman was accused of coming to an apartment located in the 900 block of South State Street in the early morning hours of Feb. 11. Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Reiser had alleged that Furman assaulted the occupant of the apartment and Furman's ex-girlfriend while entering the apartment illegally to attempt to fight a man who had been sending him text messages regarding the ex-girlfriend.

Hines said the testimony presented at the trial did not prove Reiser’s assertions beyond a reasonable doubt. She agreed with Mason and Resier that Furman shouldn’t have come to the apartment, but the testimony in the trial did not show his actions were criminal.

“He shouldn’t have done what he did … but looking at the law, there is insufficient evidence for assault and battery or domestic violence beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hines said, adding that there was not enough evidence to prove that Furman was not legally allowed at the apartment’s door, where the confrontation allegedly took place.

Furman has been suspended from the football program while the case was pending and Mason said afterward he expected his client to be reinstated. A spokesman for the program was not immediately available to comment on Furman’s status Thursday afternoon.

Even though he spent most of his time during Thursday’s hearing with his head bowed toward the ground and occasionally wiping his eyes, Furman’s face was filled with a relieved smile in the moments after Hines gave her verdict.

The trial began Monday when the two women who were involved in the incident testified they did not feel threatened by Furman during the incident. The women both testified were attempting to hold Furman back from potentially fighting another man who was in the apartment. Mason said that man had been sending Furman explicit text messages regarding his ex-girlfriend.

According to the ex-girlfriend’s testimony, she initiated the physical contact with Furman by grabbing his arm and hair. Mason said that it was clear that if Furman wanted to get past the women into the apartment, he could have.

“If this guy is strong enough to get past OSU’s (Ohio State University) line, he could’ve got past these two cheerleaders,” Mason said. “But, he didn’t do it.”

That defense didn’t impress Reiser, who argued that no matter how much restraint Furman might’ve showed, he still forced his way into the apartment and that constituted a criminal offense.

“Bully for him that he’s 6-foot-whatever and weighs 200-whatever-pounds and he didn’t use his full might against them,” she said.

Resier said the testimony on Monday minimized Furman’s actions on the night of the alleged offense and the witnesses had watered down their comments. She said it was admirable that Furman’s friends and acquaintances wanted to keep him out of trouble, but Reiser still believed Furman was guilty of a crime.

Reiser said regardless of the terms used by the women and their roommate, who also testified on Monday, to describe how Furman tried to enter the apartment — a 911 call played in court Thursday indicated he “forced” his way in, while one woman said Monday he “brushed” by her — he should have been guilty of illegal entry.

“The fact that he used forced at all shows the illegal nature of his entry,” she said. “He was not invited in.”

However, it wasn’t enough to convince Hines — who was the lone decider of guilt or innocence because it was a bench trial — that Furman should be convicted.

“I am just not sure,” she said. “I am not sure enough to say there is no reasonable doubt.”

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Apr 27, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

This matter could have easily been settled short of a trial (anger management classes, counseling, etc.). Instead, a prosecutor wasted resources and time all in an effort to bag a football player. The Judge did a great job of deciding this case on the evidence.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Glad this debacle is over with and Josh has been cleared of this matter.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

According to MgoBlue dot com Josh Furman had no recordable stats in the OSU Game, so there is no evidence to suggest he could get past OSUs line, or two cheerleaders. He finished the season with 5 tackles and 5 assists. He did nothing recordable in the ND, State, and TOSU games. he couldn't even get a tackle vs Western.

Are you serious?

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

It is not unusual for someone in this kind of situation to call 911, meet with the police, tell what happened and then later recant. All the police and prosecutors have to go on is the victim/witness statements. I suspect that the testimony at the trial was significantly different than the statements given to the police. That's why there are trials. To see what people say under oath and let the judge or jury decide. For anyone here to make the kind of comments that are here is to reach conclusions after the fact. Nobody on here was there and I'd guess that nobody has read the police report or talked to the people involved on that night. All the judge can do is make a decision on the testimony and evidence presented and judge the credibility of the witnesses. None of us were there, none of us know what happened. The case went to trial and a verdict was reached - that is how it is supposed to work.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Ms. Reiser, is that you?


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

He was found not guilty and that's the bottom line.apparently the evidence just wasn't there


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

FebRuary, please check your spelling in the title.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

It's been fixed. Thank you, an unfortunate typo.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

District attorneys get elected by being "tough on crime." They will nowadays prosecute incidents, that 20 years ago would have been dismissed at the beginning, even if they know there is slim to no chance. Why, because they can say to the public "I am tough on crime but the courts and juries are not so." What a waste of time and money


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

I like seeing ESPN's headline... "Michigan's Furman found not guilty on all counts" much better than the alternative!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Good for you, Josh - provided that you avoid similar behavior from now on. Good for this judge, too - that's a good decision in light of the fact that Mr. Furman evidently has no record of previous offenses. And by the way: I think the name of the guy who was sending Furman explicit text messages about his girl friend should be published. He may consider himself lucky but I think he's culpable because he clearly provoked Furman to an extreme degree. Freedom of speech does NOT protect speech which damages others and which may provoke violent reaction. Just try sending messages to the mayor, the governor or to the president containing explicit language about their female partners (be they past or present). Go ahead, give it a shot, what could go wrong?!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Sometimes I miss the olden days when a man who said nasty things about a lady could expect a pop in the even attempting to do so puts someone on trial.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

I can see the courts being involved if this kid entered the house and did damage or hit one of the girls, but this was a case of two girls trying to keep their boys from getting in a fight. The prosecutor had to have known the girls where not going to throw their friend under the bus...this case should have been dismissed, or not even started to begin with...


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

much to do about nothing!! GO BLUE!!!!!!


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

What a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and court time and resources. A multiple day trial for this? Sheesh. Good to know our government officials are keeping us safe from predators like Furman, who almost got by some cheerleaders to almost get into a fight with someone who was acting like a jerk. I'm sure stuff like that never happens in college. It sounds like the Judge was trying to be nice to the prosecutor (who had to know after the flimsy evidence she would be roundly criticized) by saying "Furman shouldn't have gone to the house that night," but lots of people do things they shouldn't do and don't end up having to go through a multiple day criminal trial to prove their innocence. I think most Ann Arborites are proud that UM athletes don't get a free ride when they commit crimes (as happens in some areas), and that they are treated like everyone else. But this case seems to reek of "reverse preferential treatment," of someone being treated worse because he is a UM athlete.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 11:32 p.m.

Good comments, well stated and I agree.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

My thoughts exactly! If the cops and prosecutors chased down every instance of guys "almost" getting in a fight? Good lord... This should have ended when the cops got there and realized that, although there was a scuffle, everyone was fine, and nobody was hurt, and the fight never happened.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Another prime example of an overzealous persecutor, er, prosecutor. Doing everything possible to convict someone whether there is actual guilt or not...


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

What a waste of city resources. This should have never gone to trial.


Thu, Apr 26, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

Good for you, Josh . . . Best wishes, forward.