North Carolina

UNC suspends CBs Stewart, Hughes amid assault charges

North Carolina cornerback M.J. Stewart has been suspended indefinitely and will miss the team's game on Saturday against Wake Forest, the school announced on Thursday.
North Carolina cornerback M.J. Stewart has been suspended indefinitely and will miss the team's game on Saturday against Wake Forest, the school announced on Thursday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Two North Carolina football players have been suspended indefinitely amid misdemeanor assault charges after an altercation in the early morning hours of Oct. 4 at a fraternity house near campus.

Michael Hughes, a freshman cornerback, and M.J. Stewart, a sophomore cornerback, turned themselves in to Chapel Hill police on Thursday after the alleged victims decided to press charges, Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department said Friday.

Hughes is charged with one count of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. Stewart is charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery. Both charges stem from an apparent fight at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at 303 E. Franklin St.

“A victim called and reported that the subject had assaulted him, punched him and then at some point had left to come back with someone else and then at that point another assault took place,” Mecimore said on Friday. “There were two victims of the assaults.”

The alleged assaults took place at approximately 3 a.m. on Oct. 4, hours after UNC’s football team would have returned home from a 38-31 victory on Oct. 3 at Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels in that game overcame a 21-0 deficit and mounted the biggest come-from-behind victory in school history.

UNC coach Larry Fedora in a statement released on Thursday said he had been aware of “the altercation” since the night that it happened.

“(We) have been working closely with the university and Chapel Hill Police to gather relevant information,” Fedora said. “We hold our players to a high standard and M.J. and Mike will face the consequences for their involvement.”

Mecimore, the police public information officer, said the two victims decided to press charges on Thursday. One of the alleged victims, Patrick Snow, 20, declined to answer questions about the incident when reached on Friday. He referred questions to Adam Webb, the fraternity president.

Webb then referred questions to Ion Outterbridge of UNC’s Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. Outterbridge didn’t immediately return an email on Friday.

The other victim, according to the police report, is Nicholas Davaz, 19. He didn’t immediately return a text message on Friday. Both Snow and Davaz listed the fraternity house as their home address.

Hughes, 18, and Stewart, 20, turned themselves in between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Mecimore said, and both were quickly released on bond. Stewart posted $2,000 bond and Hughes $1,000. Both had been due in Orange County Court in Hillsborough on Friday afternoon, but their initial court dates were moved back.

Stewart’s first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 22. Hughes is due in court on Nov. 19.

Mecimore said Hughes and Stewart are the only suspects in the case. They will both be suspended for UNC’s game on Saturday against Wake Forest.

Stewart leads UNC with three interceptions and is fifth on the team in tackles. Hughes has played in every game and has been among the team’s most promising freshman.

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