UPDATE: Judge: Ball's attackers "lucky" to get diversion program - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Judge: Ball's attackers "lucky" to get first offender's program

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge told two UW-Madison students who attacked Badger football star Montee Ball they were "lucky" to be able to participate in a first offender's program, with a chance of dismissal of felony charges.

"You injured Mr. Ball, physically, emotionally," Judge Rebecca St. John said Wednesday to 21-year old Robert Wilks and 21-year Wendell Venerable, after both men pleaded guilty to felony party to a substantial battery in the attack on Ball.

St. John accepted a recommendation from the prosecutor the men be placed in the first offender's program, and imposition of a sentence was withheld, with the charges to be dismissed if the men successfully completed the program. First offender's program can involve counseling, alcohol and other drug treatment, community service and other requirements.

Wilks, Venerable and other people attacked an unsuspecting Ball at bar time on University Avenue August 1. Authorities say the attack was retaliation for a previous fight involving Venerable and other football players.

Ball's father, Montee Ball, Sr., spoke to the court, and called what happened to his son "devastating." Ball said receiving the call about his the attack on his son was more traumatic than notifications he had received over the deaths of his parents.

Ball said his family's hope was the first offender's program would provide help to the attackers to correct their behavior.

"We're not angry. We were, not anymore," Ball told the court.

When asked by St. John whether criminal documents accurately described what happened in the attack on Ball, Venerable said, "Not all of it," but later agreed he was part of a group in which people hit Ball and then kicked him.

Ball suffered a concussion and other injuries, and missed practice time.

"You are lucky you did not injure him more seriously," St. John told Wilks and Venerable.

The prosecutor said Ball originally intended to make a statement in court, but Ball did not attend the hearing, and his father served as a family spokesperson.

Another man charged in the attack, UW-Madison student Deonte Wilson, has a plea hearing scheduled next month. Authorities say a fourth suspect has been identified, but not arrested.

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.MADISON (WKOW) -- Badger football star Montee Ball is expected to make a statement Wednesday in Dane County court, as two UW-Madison students, who authorities say attacked Ball, enter pleas and accept responsibility for the violence.

Wendell Venerable and Robert Wilks, both 21, are charged with felony substantial battery, but a prosecutor says they will be recommended for a first offender's program, with an opportunity for charges to be dropped if they successfully complete the program.

Ball suffered a concussion and other injuries and missed practice time when authorities say several people attacked him at bar time on University Avenue. Authorities say the beating was retaliation for a previous fight involving Venerable and other football players, but not Ball.

Another student charged in the attack, Deonte Wilson, is scheduled to enter a plea and have his case resolved next month. Authorities say another suspect has been identified, but no arrest has been made.

Tony Galli will have more from court, and Montee Ball, on www.wkow.com and in 27 News at 5 and 6 p.m.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Two of the three men charged in the attack on Badger running back Montee Ball are scheduled for plea and sentencing hearings Wednesday.

Wendell Venerable and Robert Wilks are both due in court Wednesday afternoon. Each faces a single count of battery. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Another man, Deonte Wilson, is also charged in the August attack on University Avenue. Police say the men knocked Ball to the ground and kicked him in the head and chest. Ball was left unconscious and with a concussion.

Police say there is a fourth suspect in the attack, but that person has not been arrested yet.

The hearing for Venerable and Wilks was originally scheduled for earlier in the week, but Ball did not know the case was wrapping up and could not make it to court that day.

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