WILMINGTON, Del. — The Delaware attorney general’s office has dropped its witness intimidation charges against Wendell Smallwood, hours after an acquaintance of the West Virginia running back pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Smallwood was arrested in Morgantown earlier this month and extradited to his hometown of Wilmington, where police alleged he attempted to persuade a murder witness to recant her statement tying Zakee Lloyd to the 2012 shooting death of Wilmington resident, Manuel Oliveras, 51.

Lloyd, 22, admitted to the killing on Tuesday morning before the start of jury selection, and prosecutors said Smallwood’s cooperation was pivotal to the conviction.

Jason Miller, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Justice, issued the following statement:

“Since his arrest, Wendell Smallwood has been fully cooperative with the Department of Justice and Wilmington Police Department including giving a full statement regarding his involvement in witness intimidation. He was fully prepared to testify truthfully in the upcoming trial, and his cooperation was instrumental to the State in securing today’s conviction of Zakee Lloyd.

“There is no evidence of Smallwood’s involvement in the murder of Manuel Oliveras.  Moreover, despite the recorded phone call between Smallwood and Lloyd, there is no evidence that it resulted in a threat being conveyed to that witness.  In consideration of all of the facts and circumstances, including Smallwood’s full cooperation with authorities and the conviction of Zakee Lloyd, the State today entered a nolle prosequi on the witness intimidation charge against Wendell Smallwood.”

During Big 12 media days last week, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who has been mostly silent on the arrest, declined to answer any questions about Smallwood’s capacity to practice with the team while he was out on $40,000 bail. The coach continues to refer to his July 20 school-issued statement, in which he said WVU will “continue to monitor the situation.”

Holgorsen seemingly left the door cracked for Smallwood’s return, considering the player’s name remained on the roster as of Tuesday.

Smallwood is expected to be back for the start of fall camp on Thursday, but it remains to be seen whether Holgorsen will impose a suspension.

Wilmington police claimed that during March and May 2013—when Smallwood was a spring semester early enrollee at WVU—the player made multiple calls to a state witness attempting to persuade her to recant her statements implicating Lloyd in the death of Oliveras.

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Comments

  • TruthTeller

    This is great news. Although WVU was going to be fine either way. But with Smallwood coming back that makes this season even better. It time to focus on winning and this time finish what you start this season. Come on Mountaineers!!! Put WVU back on the national stage. Climb that Mountain!!!

  • Mister Man

    Welcome back Mr. Smallwood.

  • An actual athlete

    Looks like the da was just worried about winning this conviction. You gotta so what you gotta do. Those who were bashing this young man and calling him a gang banger need to own up and apoligize. Thats why its innocent until proven guilty.

  • Art in Ohio

    Delaware attorney general used Smallwood to get what he wanted---conviction of a killer--then the AG sent Smallwood back to West Virginia. End of story......

    • Diaspora

      Leverage.... That is what you do, in business, in government and in college athletics. I have something you want (testimony), you have something I need (drop the charges).

      I think it is clear WS was involved in something nefarious. However, he did what he needed to do to make it right, and now it's time to move on. Justice served. Any clear thinking adult will use this as a major life milestone, thank God for his blessings, take advantage of the scholarship and get a quality education, and maximize your athletic talent (which is the least important of all of the items listed above). I support Smallwood in getting his life right. Whether WVU prospers or not because of him is tertiary.

  • Sam

    Snitches get touches (on the field, not in prison.) I don't care what he did, even if they do have audio recordings of it.

    Now we're definitely beating 'Bama - MARK IT DOWN!!!

  • Rah B

    Where are all those haters at that were talkin all that trash on the young man a week ago??? Own up, and enjoy ya big ol plate of CROW!!

    • notorious

      It sounds like he did all the right things and its great for him and the team that his name was cleared.

      However, its clear that he needs to grow up and run with a different crowd. You are only as good as the company you keep. When was the last time you had a friend with a murder rap?

  • Jim Moltzer

    Let justice do it work! For Wendell Smallwood, he is lucky to find this out now how it could effect his life. He should remain on the team to play football and get a good degree for the future because you never know what the future will throw at you .... need to prepare for it! So, I am glad for you and have a great year on and off the field! Lets Go Mountaineers and win some games!

  • Aaron

    Many owe this young man an apology. In my humble opinion, that would include those who printed cheap shots made in light of his circumstances for reasons I do not comprehend.

    • The bookman

      As in the initial story, I think it premature to assume anything regarding the situation with regard to Mr. Smallwood. No one save Mr Smallwood and the authorities in Delaware know the level of his involvement. We should all attempt to refrain from assuming anything, guilt or innocence, from news stories. Let the process play out.

      • Troll

        It has played out and the charges were dropped. That was the process.

        • The bookman

          As it was clearly a rush to judgement that he was somehow a thug, it is also clearly a rush to assume he is squeaky clean because the charges were dropped. I would suggest it is none of our collective business until there is something concrete on which to base an opinion. Hopefully, this brush with the law, as serious as it would appear, will set the young man on a better path, regardless of the validity of the charges.

          • The bookman

            Aaron,

            No, it isn't too much to ask. I agree with your statement. I don't read many of the sports articles here because of the venom. And in cases of legal troubles, it is never a good idea to infer much about character, good or bad, from such reports. That is the point of my post. Just as it is a bad idea to jump to guilty conclusions from initial reports, it is just as dangerous to demand apologies from dismissed charges.

            Now can we get a little football news Mr Allan Taylor instead of this gossip column tabloid stuff!

            Yeesh!

          • Aaron

            No one is saying he is squeaky clean but he deserves the benefit of the doubt. While I don't expect it from some of the idiots who post online, I do expect it from professionals. Is that too much to ask?

      • bob

        +1

  • JECO

    The first paragraph is the complete summary from the Delaware Att General's office.
    The last paragraph is what Metro News want u to remember. BIAS?? You be the judge. The Delaware Judged has already ruled on the facts.

  • In da stickes

    Snitches get stitches.

  • good news

    This is good news for this young man. Hope he learns to choose his friends more carefully and take advantage of the positive opportunity being offered by WVU.

  • any major dude

    I see no obstacle to Smallwood rejoining the team. He was cooperative with the investigation but it goes beyond that. He made no threat to the witness, per report from the investigators. I suppose DH could suspend him for making multiple calls of persuasion but then again, he wasn't charged with that.

    • Vince

      There is zero reason to suspend him. He's not guilty of anything, not even charged with anything.

      He's the victim of a corrupt system. He was arrested for a crime for which there was no evidence to help get a confession.

  • richard

    fully cooperative! way to go wendall. the truth is better than lying and it showed in this situation. now you need to keep your nose clean, attend class and make the grades!!! if you don't get back on the team.....then get your degree. if you do, play your best and try your hardest. once a mountaineer always a mountaineer!

  • any major dude

    I give full credit to those who called for withholding judgement about this young man until the judicial system had run its course. Good for you.

  • FNP

    Lets Play Some Ball!