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Closing arguments in trial of former Arizona track coach Craig Carter coming Friday

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Carter did not testify in his defense

Craig Carter mugshot

Nearly three years after his arrest, former Arizona Wildcats track coach Craig Carter is on trial in Pima County for assault charges brought by UA thrower Baillie Gibson.

The case garnered national attention when Gibson shared her story with ESPN’s Outside the Lines in 2017 for a piece called “Track and Fear”. Gibson and her former roommate/teammate Julie Labonte detail some of the horrific acts that Carter engaged in with Gibson.

The one that the trial is centered around was an incident in Carter’s office on April 20th, 2015.

This was three years after a sexual relationship between Carter and Gibson started and a year and a half after a meeting involving Greg Byrne and track head coach Fred Harvey with Carter. However Byrne and Harvey, as well as the rest of the athletic department, never met with Gibson even after Byrne wrote in his notes that Gibson “comes to (Carter) for support” and Carter saying “I can imagine people speculating because we have been alone together, talked a lot, I’m not denying that.”

Gibson requested to transfer in 2014 but never got the opportunity due to injuries. Then in 2015, things turned violent between the student-athlete and assistant coach.

This is what Gibson told UA police of that fateful day in Carter’s McKale Center office:

“He jumped up and he grabbed my shirt and I pulled and then he pulled the front end like where my bra and like upper shirt was, pulled it and then like put me on the couch. Put his hands around my neck, or his hand around my neck and then the razor blade was in his right hand because he was facing me, but in his right hand and he said, ‘I should just cut your face up and cut your eyes so that no one can see those pretty eyes.’ And he was choking me but I was like, I felt my head was like filling with blood. And it was like, it was starting where I couldn’t breathe and then he like let go and then he kind of collapsed on my side and like started crying.”

In court on Wednesday, video was played of Carter admitting to the attack to UAPD detectives according to the Daily Star’s Caitlin Schmidt:

“I got the box cutter out of my pocket and I said ‘I’ll freaking hurt you’ and I, you know after how long, maybe five seconds of that, it was kind of like I thought ‘what are you doing?’ I let go, I put the box cutter down and I told her not to leave, said I was sorry and I was going to just stick it in my neck because I knew I was pretty screwed right then.”

Gibson testified on Wednesday, and then Labonte and the officers that were investigating the incident testified on Thursday.

Carter did not take the stand in his own defense.

Essentially the defense is arguing that what happened does not meet the criteria for “aggravated assault” but are not denying that the incident happened.

According to the Daily Star, the state of Arizona has now spent nearly $1 million on Carter’s defense because he was a UA employee when a civil suit was filed.

“It’s very disappointing that the state is paying nearly $1 million to defend a coach that admitted to assaulting a former Wildcat,” Gibson’s attorney, Lynne Cadig said. Cadig tried to have the civil suit put on hold to save taxpayer money while this criminal trial proceeded, but the judge denied that request.

That figure has now gone over $1 million.

Be sure to follow Caitlin Schmidt for updates as we get closer to a verdict. This comes just four months after former Arizona running back Orlando Bradford was sentenced to five years in prison aggravated assault and a month after the football program was added to a Title IX lawsuit that alleges the players gang-raped female students and staff members.

The Byrne era at Arizona will certainly not be remembered fondly.