Prison time may await suspects

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Grishma Rimal

Variety Editor

The two Troy University students who were arrested by Florida’s Bay County Sheriff’s Office in connection with a sexual battery case could face prison time if found guilty.

Delonte’ Martistee, 22, from Bainbridge, Georgia, and Ryan Austin Calhoun, 23, from Mobile have been charged with sexual battery by multiple perpetrators.

According to Bob Sombathy, assistant state attorney for the 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida, if the two are found guilty, their sentences will depend on the number of current and prior charges. “It’s not going to be a probation,” he said, stating that the sentence can be up to 30 years.

The investigation into the case began after a video was found that allegedly shows what the sheriff’s office has called a “gang rape.”

According to the BCSO offense/ incident report provided by public information officer Ruth Corely, the video “depicts several individuals sexually battering a female that appears to be incapacitated.”

Florida statute No. 794.011 states that “sexual battery means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object …”

A third person has also been arrested in connection with the case. George Davon Kennedy, a Middle Tennessee State University student, was identified by the BCSO and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Investigators found that Kennedy had family in DeKalb County, Georgia, and with the assistance of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Kennedy was arrested Tuesday night and charged with being a principal to sexual assault by multiple perpetrators.

The state attorney’s office said that the investigation is ongoing and other suspects may be involved.

On Monday, Derrick Brewster, assistant dean of student services, sent out an email informing students, faculty and staff that Martistee and Calhoun were suspended from the university.

A video statement was also released in the email where Walter Givhan, senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development, stated that “to ensure due process, this is a temporary suspension pending a hearing in completion of the police investigation.”

Martistee was a student athlete and has been removed from the men’s track team. Members of the athletic team have been advised by the athletic department to not speak to the media and did not make a statement.

According to the BCSO, Calhoun posted $50,000 bond and has been released from the Bay County jail while Matistee was still being held as of Wednesday afternoon.

A press release by the BCSO states that the incident occurred sometime between March 10 and March 12, on the beach behind Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City Beach, Florida.

The arrest was made on the evening of April 9 in Troy. The offense listed on the report is “sex offense/sexual battery/forcible rape.”

The victim is listed as a 20-year-old female. Corley said the victim is not a Troy University student.

According to the victim’s statement in the report, she arrived at Panama City Beach a few days before her birthday.

“She states that she blacked out at some point during the day, and didn’t recall much about the day, but remembers having to get assistance to get back to where she was staying,” the report says.

According to Lt. Bryan Weed of the Troy Police Department, the video was first found during the investigation of a shooting that occurred on March 21 at 2:30 a.m. at one of the Waffle House locations in Troy.

“They (detectives) had gained consent to look into one of the people they were talking to’s phone, and the video was on the phone,” he said. Weed said that the phone “belonged to a student, but I’m not sure if it was the ones that were arrested.”

Weed said that initially Troy police was unsure where the incident occurred and reached out to the BCSO in Panama City because “a majority of students go there for spring break.”

On April 2, Capt. James Barron of the Troy Police Department contacted Capt. Jimmy Stanford with the BCSO regarding the video.

“Of course, when Bay County reviewed it and everything, they discovered that it did occur in their jurisdiction, and then they pursued the investigation from there,” Weed said. “That was really the extent of our involvement in it other than the fact when they came up to make the arrest we provided them assistance.”

According to Weed, the shooting is still under investigation. Two individuals suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting. They were not Troy University students.

Last week at a press conference, Frank McKeithen, sheriff of Bay County, discussed the content of the video and said that hundreds of people could have witnessed the crime and no one stopped it or reported it.

“If you condone this, you should be in jail right along with them as far as I’m concerned,” McKeithen said.

McKeithen said it was no longer safe for children to be on the beaches “when these animals are out there conducting themselves like this.”

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