Former University of Michigan football walk-on ordered into jail/work program
A former University of Michigan football walk-on was ordered to participate in a jail/work program last week for his second assault conviction stemming from barroom brawls since 2007.
Robbie Thornbladh, 22, must complete the program within the first six months of his three years of probation under the terms of a sentencing agreement with Washtenaw Circuit Judge Donald Shelton. Thornbladh is also to comply with any substance abuse treatment recommended by probation department officials.
Court records indicate he also paid full restitution and court fines exceeding $2,700.
Thornbladh, a non-scholarship freshman fullback in 2006, entered into a plea deal with prosecutors just days before his December trial was to begin on multiple assault charges.
He was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon for striking a man while holding a bottle in his hand during a fight at a downtown establishment.
Prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated assault as part of the deal. But he still faced up to four years in prison, and might have served it had he not made such significant lifestyle changes, said his attorney, Ellis Freatman.
Thornbladh attended in-patient alcohol rehabilitation, participated in support groups and refocused his life, which had an impression on the judge, Freatman said. He still attends U-M and recently served as a volunteer football coach for local youth, Freatman said.
“I’m confident the choices he’s made since this incident had an impact,” Freatman said. “He’s absolutely turned the corner.”
In 2007, Thornbladh was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery for striking a man in a large bar fight that involved several Wolverines football players. The same jury acquitted him of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm after a three-day trial.
He was sentenced to one week in jail, one year of probation and had to wear an electronic tether, court records show.
In May 2008, he pleaded guilty to one count of violating his probation after attempting to operate a vehicle as a minor while under the influence.
He was ordered to serve two weeks in jail and fined $850, court records show.
The most recent incident occurred in February 2008 during a fight between two other men, Freatman said.
Thornbladh was trying to stay out of the fight but ended up in a confrontation with another man who was shoved in the fracas, Freatman said.Â FreatmanÂ insisted Thornbladh struck the man with his hand and not the bottle, but the bottle shattered, cutting both the man’s forehead and Thornbladh’s hand.
He was arrested in July after a lengthy investigation by the Ann Arbor police.
Thornbladh is the son of former Wolverine Robert “Blade” Thornbladh, who played fullback from 1971 to 1973 and later was an assistant coach with the team.
Art Aisner is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at email@example.com or 734-623-2530.