Crime & Courts

Ex-Cowboy Joseph Randle to be released from jail after judge orders probation

Former Dallas Cowboy Joseph Randle enters a Sedgwick County courtroom. A judge on Friday ordered him to serve five years of probation over criminal charges he racked up for an argument at a housewarming party more than two years ago in Wichita.
Former Dallas Cowboy Joseph Randle enters a Sedgwick County courtroom. A judge on Friday ordered him to serve five years of probation over criminal charges he racked up for an argument at a housewarming party more than two years ago in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

A judge has ordered former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle to serve five years of probation over criminal charges he racked up for an argument at a housewarming party more than two years ago in Wichita.

Jurors convicted Randle, 26, in the case last April. He was found guilty of aggravated burglary, aggravated battery, criminal threat and marijuana possession for allegedly hitting three people with a car in February 2016 after he got upset over a game of beer pong when a player purportedly used a racial slur. He backed into partygoers after he was asked to leave.

On Friday, more than a year after he was initially set for sentencing in the case, Sedgwick County District Court Judge Kevin O’Connor gave Randle the five-year probation term on a recommendation from lawyers. Defense attorney Steve Mank and prosecutor Alice Osburn reached a plea deal for Randle in four other criminal cases he'd been awaiting trial on in Sedgwick County shortly before making the recommendation to the judge.

O'Connor agreed to consider ending Randle's probation two years early if Randle follows the rules of his probation, stays out of trouble and pays more than $3,000 in restitution to a man he hit with the car, plus other costs.

While he's on probation, Randle must continue therapy and treatment programs, take medication prescribed to him, be in his home for curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. unless he's working or in school and stay away from drugs and alcohol, the judge said.

Randle was arrested in the case in February 2016. He has been in jail in Wichita for most of the past two years. He was expected to be released from the Sedgwick County Jail sometime Friday.

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The judge in court encouraged Randle to "lean on your family" for support while he works through his probationary term. Several of them sat in the courtroom gallery during Friday's hearing.

Dressed in a red jail jumpsuit and handcuffed, Randle grinned and said "looking good, good looking" to his family when he was escorted into court by deputies.

"They seem to be … good decent people who can be an anchor for you," O'Connor told Randle.

"You can't afford to get yourself into trouble."

Randle's sentence comes a week after he was deemed competent by the court for a fourth time. The resolution of his Sedgwick County cases have been on hold for more than a year while his ability to understand court proceedings and assist in his defense has been in question.

He received his latest mental evaluation at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Larned, Kan.

“It appears that his stay at Larned State Hospital has made a world of difference in Mr. Randle,” Osburn said in court.

“Continued medication and therapy would be in the best interest of this defendant," she said. Randle's attorney agreed.

Not everyone in the courtroom Friday was happy that Randle had received probation for his crimes.

Jennifer Hales, whose boyfriend, Loy Alexander, was hit by Randle's car, suggested in court that the sentence was not tough enough.

"He is not remorseful, throughout this whole ordeal," she told the judge. "I don't understand how ... he just went to probation. Is that how it's going to be?"

When the judge asked Randle if he had anything to say about his crimes before his sentence was announced, Randle said simply: "No comment."

O'Connor called the case a "sad situation all the way around, a frightening situation for the victims."

But, he explained, Randle had already served almost 2 1/2 years in jail on the case and that he "appears to have made some significant strides." He said in some ways, probation might be more difficult for Randle than prison because he will be subject to sanctions — including incarceration — if he doesn't follow the rules.

“You’re not a former professional football player. You’re just a convicted felon now," O'Connor told Randle after handing down his sentence.

In addition to being placed on probation, Randle also resolved the four other criminal cases he had pending in Sedgwick County with pleas on Friday morning. Those cases accused him of dodging law enforcement attempts to serve him with a warrant, threatening a jail deputy who denied him phone privileges, damaging a television at the jail and brawling with a fellow inmate.

Randle pleaded no contest to interference with a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery, which are felonies. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property, and was immediately sentenced to six months in jail on each count.

Because he’s been incarcerated since 2016, the court will consider that time already served.

Randle will be sentenced for the felonies in August. He will be out of jail on bond until then.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, making an appearance at the team's facility in Frisco, Texas, commented on releasing running back Joseph Randle. (video by Paul Mosley/Star-Telegram/April 2016)

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker
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