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Carolina Panther Greg Hardy’s assault case brings new twists: Restraining order suit dismissed; guns must be turned in; argument linked to rapper Nelly

By Joseph Person, Michael Gordon and Jonathan Jones
jperson@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/13/52/KnOrt.Em.138.jpeg|436
    Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Carolina Panther Greg Hardy, left, exits the Mecklenburg County jail Wednesday, May 14, after his bond was set at $15,000 for assault and $2,000 for threats. Hardy was also told he can't contact the accuser and he must attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/13/52/FlPd5.Em.138.jpeg|379
    - MECKLENBURG COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
    Greg Hardy was released Wednesday from Mecklenburg County jail.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/05/15/13/52/Ca0nJ.Em.138.jpeg|316
    - FACEBOOK
    Nicole Holder with Greg Hardy from her Facebook page in Janurary.

CHARLOTTE The domestic violence case against the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy took several surprising twists Thursday, with the dismissal of the accuser’s request for a restraining order, a court order that the Pro Bowl defensive end turn over his weapons, and a link to the rapper Nelly.

In new documents filed in the case, Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Becky Thorne Tin ordered Hardy to surrender all of his firearms as an added condition of his bond.

Nicole Holder, 24, who alleges Hardy beat her up at his apartment early Tuesday, told authorities Hardy keeps a cache of 25 to 30 firearms at his two Charlotte residences. Holder says her arm was cut and her back bruised when Hardy slammed her into a futon covered with guns, according to documents filed in the case.

Christopher Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said this week it was Holder who attacked Hardy.

When Holder failed to show up for a hearing Thursday to consider her protective order request, District Court Judge Charlotte Brown dismissed the case.

Holder, a waitress at an EpiCentre nightclub, has told authorities she and Hardy broke up in March, when she moved out of Hardy’s home, according to documents. Holder said she and Hardy were trying to reconcile, but that Holder’s “short-lived relationship” with Nelly during their breakup was a continuing source of friction. Holder said Hardy “often becomes suddenly very angry.”

Nelly, 39, is a Grammy-winning artist and a part owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Holder told police she and Hardy went out drinking with friends Monday night before returning to Hardy’s uptown residence on North Tryon Street, documents show.

Holder says she was lying in bed with Hardy when “he just snapped,” according to the warrant worksheet. Holder says Hardy threw her to the floor, tossed her into a tile bathtub and slammed her into a futon.

She also says Hardy twice choked her during the altercation, leaving welts on her collarbone. Holder says Hardy “threw her around several times” and “beat the (expletive) out of me.”

Holder told investigators she swung her heeled shoe at Hardy several times while defending herself, and began screaming loudly and cursing. Holder said Hardy then began videotaping her and agitating her, “trying to get her to flip out on him,” according to the documents.

Holder said the two continued fighting “back and forth” until another woman in Hardy’s apartment woke up and left with Holder.

In a 911 call Hardy made about 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, he told dispatchers Holder was attacking him with her shoe and repeatedly refused to leave his apartment.

After declining medical treatment at the scene, Holder later went to the emergency room, according to her former attorney.

It’s unclear how Holder feels about the criminal case. In addition to not showing up for Thursday’s hearing, she has parted ways with attorney Stephen Goodwin of Matthews.

Asked whether Holder is still cooperating with prosecutors, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said professional ethics “prevent our office from discussing details of a pending case.”

Holder did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

The prosecution of domestic violence cases doesn’t rely solely on the victim’s participation. The district attorney’s spokeswoman said Thursday the charges are still pending. Hardy is scheduled to be back in court June 27.

New bond terms

Hardy, 25 and in his fifth season with the Panthers, was not in court Thursday. Hardy, who is 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, has been charged with assaulting a female and communicating threats, both misdemeanors.

He was released on $17,000 bond Wednesday and ordered to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week and to stay away from Holder. Judge Tin amended the bond requirements Thursday, ordering Hardy to turn over “any and all weapons and firearms currently in his possession or to which he could otherwise have ready access to,” according to documents.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Julia Rush said she expected deputies to visit Hardy’s home and ask for the weapons as early as Thursday night. The judge’s handwritten order is not a search warrant, and deputies will not be able to enter Hardy’s apartment without his permission, Rush said.

Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said he was aware of the order but declined to comment.

Thursday’s hearing was to consider Holder’s request that Hardy be barred from her home, the EpiCentre and the home of her parents in an adjacent county.

Judge Brown dismissed Holder’s request for the restraining order when Holder wasn’t in court for the early afternoon hearing. Brown also accepted Goodwin’s request to withdraw as counsel.

After Brown signed his release, the attorney walked back to his briefcase, clearly shaking his head. Outside the courtroom, Goodwin repeatedly declined comment, although he did say irreconcilable differences led to the break.

Players watching case

Hardy’s arrest comes just more than two months after he signed a one-year contract guaranteeing him $13.1 million for this season.

When the Panthers secured Hardy in February, general manager Dave Gettleman said the team would “continue to look at the future of Greg with the Carolina Panthers.”

The Panthers recently agreed to give Hardy a $1.3 million salary advance – 10 percent of his guarantee – if he attended all of the team’s offseason workouts.

After Hardy spent Tuesday night in jail, he and agent Drew Rosenhaus met with the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Middle linebacker and team captain Luke Kuechly indicated Thursday that Hardy hasn’t been at the workouts this week.

Kuechly, at an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway connected to Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, said players are waiting to see how Hardy’s case unfolds.

“We have to wait to see what happens with the whole deal, that’s the biggest thing,” Kuechly said. “It’s speculation right now, and we need to see what happens.”

Asked whether Hardy’s arrest has been a distraction, Kuechly said: “I don’t think so. We wish we had Greg there (at optional practices) with us. But like I said, we’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Dueling 911 tapes

Holder, who says in documents she began dating Hardy in September, filed for the restraining order Wednesday, one day after arrest warrants say Hardy assaulted her and threatened to kill her.

Both Hardy and Holder were intoxicated at the time of the incident, according to Judge Tin.

Fialko, Hardy’s attorney, said Holder set off the Tuesday morning fracas by attacking the player and a friend, Sammy Curtis.

Wednesday afternoon, authorities released a series of 911 tapes connected to the case. In one, a heavily breathing Hardy describes Holder as out of control, intoxicated and trying to attack him with the heel of her shoe.

“Like, yo, she’s out of it, my man,” Hardy tells the 911 operator. “And she will not stop coming at me, bro.”

In another call, apparently made from the security desk of Hardy’s building, a woman who claims to have attended the gathering at Hardy’s home yells that a woman had been beaten there for more than 30 minutes.

“We need the police here now before this girl gets seriously hurt. Now!” she said.

At the bond hearing Wednesday morning, Judge Tin said Holder’s injuries and the nature of the allegations against Hardy “raise concerns” about Holder’s safety. Staff writer Jim Utter contributed.

Person: 704-358-5132
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