Carolina Panthers

Greg Hardy trial set for July 15; alleged victim subpoenaed to testify

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is scheduled to face charges he assaulted and threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend next month, less than two weeks before the start of training camp.

Hardy’s bench trial on the two misdemeanor charges has been set for July 15, the district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

Hardy, 25, initially was scheduled to appear in court Friday, but the trial was moved to accommodate the large number of cases scheduled that day. Hardy could face up to 60 days in jail if convicted of the domestic violence charge.

Nicole Holder, a waitress at an EpiCentre nightclub who used to live with Hardy, told police Hardy attacked her in the early-morning hours of May 13 during an “after-party” at Hardy’s uptown condo.

Holder, 24, accused the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hardy of throwing her to the floor and into a bathtub, strangling her, slamming her into a futon that was covered with guns, and threatening to shoot her if she told anyone about the fight.

Holder claims Hardy had been angry about her brief relationship with the rapper Nelly after she and Hardy broke up.

At Hardy’s bond hearing last month, his attorney Chris Fialko told a judge it was Holder who attacked Hardy.

Matthews attorney Stephen Goodwin represented Holder at Hardy’s bond hearing. Goodwin informeda judge that he was no longer Holder’s lawyer the following day when she failed to show up for a hearing on her request for a protective order.

Jamie Adams, the assistant district attorney who supervises the prosecution of domestic violence cases, said Holder has been issued a subpoena to be in court the morning of July 15.

Asked is she expected Holder to testify, Adams said, “I would hope so.”

Experts say her presence at the trial is vital to the prosecution’s case against her former boyfriend.

Even with a far more aggressive law that allows police to make arrests based on their own judgment rather than a complaint, a domestic violence case without a domestic-violence victim “is very, very hard to do,” says George Laughrun, a veteran Charlotte defense attorney.

That testimony is critical because abuse allegations are so “personal,” he says. A crime against a person needs that person to testify.

The Hardy case, which Laughrun believes will be a difficult one for prosecutors, becomes even more so if Holder doesn’t appear.

“It attacks her credibility,” Laughrun said. “ ‘She got assaulted? She was afraid? She got thrown on a sofa with 25 guns? Well judge, if that all happened, where is she? Where’s the evidence?’ ”

As part of a court order, Hardy turned over 10 guns last month, including at least six military-type, semi-automatic rifles and three 12-gauge shotguns.

Panthers and NFL officials have said they would wait until the legal process has taken its course before deciding on any possible punishment for Hardy.

Hardy has declined to comment on the charges, most recently when an Observer reporter approached him last week after the Panthers’ final minicamp practice.

Hardy appeared briefly on WFNZ-AM on Tuesday afternoon, but cut the interview short when he was asked about playing the season under the franchise tag. No questions were asked about his legal issues.

The Panthers have until July 15 – the day of Hardy’s trial – to work out a long-term contract with Hardy, although they are not expected to do so before the deadline.