I have investigated the legal situation surrounding Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna. As it turns out, Ozuna’s original accusations from his May 29th arrest have been modified, and he has a court date set for August 10th at 9 AM.
BREAKING: Marcell Ozuna’s original felony charge has been reduced to a misdemeanor. He has a court date set for a plea arraignment. Story via me and @AmyDashTV on @FoxSportsRadio, full breakdown on @SportsTalkATL coming shortly
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) July 29, 2021
On July 15th, prosecutors formally charged Ozuna with one count of Battery (Family Violence) and one count of Simple Assault (Family Violence). Both charges are misdemeanors that can carry up to one year in jail. This is a big departure from the allegations leveled against Ozuna when he was arrested and accused of attempting to choke his wife, Genesis, by allegedly grabbing her by the neck, throwing her up against the wall and hitting her with his casted fingers. Sources say the bodycam video captured everything that officers witnessed as they entered Ozuna’s house and has been examined by prosecutors. As a result of what prosecutors saw on the video, prosecutors decided not to charge Ozuna with aggravated assault, strangulation and battery which would have been a felony and instead charged him with two misdemeanors. Sources say Ozuna’s lawyers and the district attorney are in talks over a possible resolution of the matter. Since both charges are misdemeanors, if Ozuna is able to strike a plea deal, he could walk away with probation and avoid jail time. However, under Georgia law, a simple assault on a spouse does enhance the charge to an aggravated misdemeanor which could lead a Judge to sentence him to some jail time, at the Judge’s discretion, if that charge is not pled down.
“Officers entered the residence through the open door and witnessed the suspect grabbing the victim by the neck and throwing her against a wall,” said Sergeant Salvador Ortega in a public statement. “Officers were able to immediately take the suspect into custody without further incident. In addition to the strangulation attempts, the suspect also struck the victim with his arm which has a cast from a previous injury.”
As stated in Ozuna’s court records, the current misdemeanor charges carry much less severe penalties if convicted than the original Felony Aggravated Assault charge that was originally posted by Sandy Springs Police. The charge of Battery (Family Violence) has not changed, but the Felony Assault charge has been sharply reduced.
According to a Sandy Springs Police affidavit, the dispute began when Ozuna took his wife’s phone and refused to return it because he was allegedly upset over potential infidelity. The affidavit states that he “threatened to kill” Genesis. Genesis allegedly chased Ozuna outside before returning inside, locking the doors, and grabbing a knife. The affidavit also alleges that Genesis dropped the knife before pleading with Marcell to return her phone, to which he responded by using his cast to push her face back. The affidavit also states that Ozuna allegedly proceeded to push her to the ground and began strangling Genesis.
This is still an active investigation, so my request for the police body camera footage was denied. Once the case is closed, the video will be made available to the public and MLB under Georgia’s open records policy. Ozuna has not played since he dislocated his fingers on May 25th, and he currently remains on Atlanta’s Injured List. The Braves have not placed Ozuna on their Restricted List.
With Ozuna’s accusations being reduced, it means he could get little to no jail time. However, Major League Baseball will conduct their own investigation and dole out their own punishment to Ozuna.
Fulton County and the Sandy Springs Police Department did not return any questions or requests for a comment.
Sandy Springs Police has since reached out for comment. We will give further updates as facts are provided. Sgt. Ortega had this to say:
I have attached the original press release that was sent out on May 29 following his arrest. As a result of this incident, he was charged with the following:
· Aggravated Assault by Strangulation under the Domestic Violence Act
· Battery under the Domestic Violence Act
I have received some inquires today asking why we dropped the charges or why we reduced the charges. My response is that we have been unaware of this update and this is something that could only be done by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Once we obtained the warrants and made the arrest, the case was turned over to them for prosecution. To your question regarding if this incident was captured on body cam. All Sandy Springs Police Officers are equipped and wear body cam per our policy. Per the incident report, Officers walked in and witnessed the incident take place.