RebelGrove - Protective order dismissed in bizarre court scene
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Protective order dismissed in bizarre court scene

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OXFORD, Miss. -- A protective order against Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was dismissed Friday following a bizarre hearing in Lafayette County Justice Court that included Tunsil's accuser representing himself in court and examining the All-American on the witness stand.
The ruling came less than one minute after closing statements in the hour-long hearing in Judge Mickey Avent's courtroom.
The protective order was initially issued on June 25 following an altercation between Tunsil and his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, at Miller's home in Taylor, Miss. The incident, which resulted in both men filing domestic violence charges against the other and with Miller filing a restraining order against Tunsil, led to Miller making accusations regarding Tunsil's association with sports agents as well as accusations regarding Tunsil's recruiting by Ole Miss.
Miller, wearing a camouflage shirt, brown jeans and a red knee brace, served as his own counsel. Tunsil, wearing a white Ole Miss polo and a khaki pants, was represented by Ashland, Miss.-based attorney Steve Farese.
The two men had completely different versions of the incident that evening. Miller claimed in court he told his wife, Desiree Tunsil, that he was "sick and tired of (Laremy Tunsil) riding around with agents and taking things. I told her that was stupid."
Miller claimed his wife, who is Laremy Tunsil's mother, went outside and told her son that Miller had called her stupid. According to Miller, he extended his hand to shake Tunsil's when the 6-foot-5, 315-pound All-American came to the door. Miller claimed Tunsil then pushed Miller, hit him twice, got on top of the 53-year-old Florida man and kept hitting him.
"I was almost blacking out," Miller said in court, referring to the damage allegedly inflicted by Tunsil as "a severe head injury." Later, in a closing statement, Miller said he was hit with a series of "deadly blows," adding he was knocked "nearly unconscious."
Miller refused medical attention at the scene and did not take an ambulance for treatment, saying he didn't go to the hospital because his two sons from a previous marriage were "terrified."
"Since this happened, my life's been a living hell," Miller said. "It was a brutal attack."
Days after the incident, photos showing Miller with swelling on his the side of his head appeared on the celebrity news website TMZ.com. Miller confirmed that TMZ offered him $3,000 for the photos, though he said in court he did not accept money.
"I'm not in it for the money," Miller said. "I'm in it for the truth."
Laremy Tunsil, speaking publicly for the first time since the incident, said in court he was at the house in Taylor to pick up his mother to take her to dinner with a prospective agent. NCAA rules allow contact with agents as long as no benefits or transportation are provided.
Miller, speaking to the (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger in the days following the incident, told the newspaper Tunsil had been riding around with agents in a yellow convertible. In court Friday, Tunsil said the yellow car was a rental car driven by a friend from South Carolina. The friend, Tunsil said, had rented the car in Memphis, Tenn., and driven to Oxford. The agent, who was not identified in court, was driving a separate vehicle, Tunsil said during testimony.
Tunsil said he saw Miller shove his mother, pushing her into a chair near the front door. Tunsil said he told his mother, "We don't need him at all." Miller, Tunsil said, "pursued me, poked me three times in the chest and told me to 'tell your mom to get her things and get out.'"
Both men, Tunsil said, threw punches and ended up on the ground before they were separated.
"Every young man who sees his mother being abused is going to respond," Farese said in closing statements. "It's hereditary."
Miller was charged in a 2002 domestic violence case in Florida, though those charges were later dismissed. Desiree Tunsil alleged in court Friday her husband cussed her and got physical with Laremy Tunsil, then a minor, at a San Antonio hotel in January 2013 following a disagreement over a meal shared with members of the University of Georgia football coaching staff.
Tunsil played in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio. NCAA rules allow a prospect's parent(s) to dine with coaches, but the Georgia staffers would not have been able to (and did not attempt to) pick up the tab.
Miller was "doubly upset," Desiree Tunsil said, because Miller had to pay for their meal and he doesn't like Mexican cuisine. Back at the hotel, Desiree Tunsil said, Miller called her expletives, leading to a confrontation between her son and her then-boyfriend.
Before the incident in Taylor, Desiree Tunsil said her husband was ranting and raving, upset that he wasn't invited to the dinner. She said Miller told her, "You aren't (crap). You've never been (crap) and you're never going to be (crap). You're going to reap what you sow. You're an (expletive). The (expletive) agents are out there."
"Mr. Miller has shown a pattern of behavior," Farese said. "The pattern is he wants something out of the deal. The truth of the matter is Mr. Miller had his feelings hurt because he wasn't involved (in the dinner with the agent). …He's a scam artist. He's continuing to try to scam this court and he's trying to ruin this young man's career."
Miller's knee brace was a point of contention throughout Friday's proceedings. Miller admitted he's attempting to get full medical disability. He limped considerably Friday and was allowed by Avent to examine and cross-examine witnesses from his seat. Miller called himself as a witness and then called his 12-year-old son from a previous marriage as a supporting witness. Following a brief cross-examination by Farese, the boy left the courtroom in tears.
In her testimony, Desiree Tunsil said her husband's knee brace and a cane he uses in public are unnecessary props, adding she and her husband, who married in July 2014 and moved to Oxford in the spring of this year, walked 3-5 miles three times a week on a trail just off Chucky Mullins Drive in Oxford before the incident last month.
Miller said in his closing statement there has been "a cover-up since Day One to protect (Tunsil)," adding if Tunsil "weren't an NFL prospect next year, we wouldn't be here, your honor."
The two men are due back in justice court on Aug. 3 for arraignment on the domestic violence charges.