Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Chiefs Perform Due Diligence Prior to Drafting Hill

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Chiefs Perform Due Diligence Prior to Drafting Hill

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the Chiefs drafted a player convicted of felony domestic assault and battery in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, team officials asked fans to trust them and insisted they performed their due diligence during the vetting process.

On Monday, The Topeka Capital-Journal and confirmed that part of the team's vetting included contacting the Oklahoma district attorney's office that handled the prosecution of running back/wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

Payne County (Okla.) district attorney Laura Thomas said the Chiefs contacted her office requesting background information on Hill's case and photos of the victim, Crystal Espinal. Thomas said in a telephone interview she discussed with the Chiefs representative portions of the case that are public knowledge but declined the team's request for photos, citing confidentiality.

Hill was arrested in December 2014 for felony domestic assault and battery related to charges he struck and choked Espinal, his then-pregnant girlfriend. Hill, a football player with Oklahoma State at the time, was dismissed from the team in January 2015. He pleaded guilty to the charge in August 2015 and received three years of probation and no jail time as part of the plea agreement.

The Payne County D.A. said the sentence wasn't unusual for a first-time offender without a prior criminal record -- as was the case with Hill.

"If he was a two-time offender or more," Thomas said, "there would have been a very, very different recommendation."

Thomas also said Hill likely helped himself during sentencing by being accountable for his actions.

"Unlike some other athletes, he took complete responsibility," Thomas said. "He didn't blame the victim. He said, 'I did it, I need help.' "

Thomas said Espinal was consulted before the plea deal was agreed upon. …

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