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August 5, 2013

SEC FOOTBALL: LSU RB Hill's probation extended, can play for Tigers

BATON ROUGE — A judge has extended LSU running back Jeremy Hill's probation and now it's up to coach Les Miles whether the Tigers' suspended leading rusher last season will return to the team.

Hill was caught on video punching a man outside a bar last spring. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery — a violation of his probation from an earlier misdemeanor.

During Monday's hearing, State District Judge Bonnie Jackson reviewed more restrictive terms she attached to Hill's first probation — including a curfew and bar ban — in May. Jackson sentenced Hill to 40 hours of community service on Monday and agreed to curfew flexibility when Hill needs to be out for football, including games and travel. Jackson had received a probation revocation motion from prosecutors.

The Tigers began practice on Monday and Miles had said he wouldn't address Hill's reinstatement until his legal status was clear.

The judge admonished Hill for the "arrogance" he displayed on the video, particularly the way he could be seen laughing after throwing the punch. She told Hill that is why many people felt he should go to jail.

"Do you know most people saw?" Jackson asked Hill. "They saw arrogance in what you did."

She told the LSU running back, people were saying he acted as if were above the law, "I'm Jeremy Hill and I can do whatever I want to do, ha-ha-ha."

However, Jackson also told the 20-year-old Hill that understands young people makes mistakes.

Hill said he was "terribly sorry" and that he "let my emotions get the best of me." He stressed that he is now focused on church, his family, hanging around the "right type of people" and to help others in his community avoid the mistakes he has made.

Since his latest plea in July, Hill has been serving two overlapping two-year probation terms.

Hill's earlier probation stemmed from his January 2012 guilty plea to a misdemeanor stemming from his sexual relationship with a then-14-year-old girl at his high school. The bar scuffle ultimately led to the second term, along with a second six-month suspended sentence.

After last month's plea, state District Judge Michael Erwin, at the victim's request, ordered Hill and a co-defendant, Robert Bayardo, not to comment publicly about the case.

Prosecutors said the victim, an LSU student, did not ask for jail time. He requested only that Hill and Bayardo to share his $750 in medical expenses, not have any contact with him or his family and not comment publicly about the incident on social media or any forum.

The judge accepted those terms.

Bayardo said he did not know Hill and he is not an LSU student. He had no prior criminal record and received one-year of probation.

Jackson's restrictions on Hill's initial probation came in May. Those included a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and a ban from bars. Erwin ruled that those conditions would apply to his new probationary period, but added he would give Hill the flexibility to stay out later than 9 p.m. when his football schedule demands it, should he be reinstated to the team. Jackson had not previously attached such flexibility to Hill's initial probation.

Hill also has been ordered to undergo anger management counseling and perform 50 hours of community service.

Hill rushed for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, his freshman season. Hill got increased playing time after season-opening starter Alfred Blue went out with a season-ending knee injury in LSU's third game. Blue has returned this season, as has junior running back Kenny Hilliard.

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