Trial begins for MSU trustee charged with assault


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — A trial is now underway for a Michigan State University trustee who’s been charged with assault and battery.


Investigators say Trustee Mitch Lyons assaulted a basketball referee in Jackson County last year.


6 News was in the courtroom for the first day of testimony.


He made a name for himself playing in the NFL, but right now Mitch Lyons is better known for what allegedly happened on a basketball court.


“There was extreme yelling from people, they didn’t like the call,” said Kevin Butters, who claims Lyons assaulted him.


Butters says that tense situation happened when he was       refereeing a girls basketball tournament at Grass Lake Middle School in December.


He says some of that heat came from Lyons, who was there coaching his teenage daughter’s team.


“He was yelling at me,” Butters said.


After the game, the ref says the crowd was very angry, claiming his calls lead to the defeat of the team Lyons was coaching.


When he tried to leave, Butters says Lyons, who is also an MSU trustee, shoved him into the bleachers.


“He called me a short, fat piece of s**, told me he’d whip my a**, and he shoved me in my chest again,”


The defense says the ref’s story has changed multiple times and there’s no proof that Lyons resorted to violence.


 “They were using foul language, and that’s what brought Mr. Lyons over to where the referees were,” said defense attorney Brian Lennon. “And he will testify about his side of the story.”


Assistant coach Corey Dykstra testified that he never saw Lyons visibly upset after the game.


“I did not see him see him put a hand on him, any hands,” Dykstra said.


But fellow referee Trevor Walker says Lyons grew increasingly agitated throughout the game, and he was there when Butters was assaulted.


“He’s about two steps ahead of me. I saw Mr. Lyons come up behind him and shoved him,” Walker said.


The trial continues Monday morning with more witness testimony.

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