A misdemeanor assault and rioting case that took place nearly two years ago will not result in immediate jail time for the attackers.
“I do accept responsibility for what I did — 100 percent,” said former Utah State University football player Ricky Ali’ifua in his statement to the court.
He apologized to the victim and the victim’s family, stating that whatever sentence the court decided to impose upon him, “I’ve earned that.”
On Monday, Ricky Ali’ifua was sentenced to 180 days of suspended jail time, three days of jail diversion, 12 months probation, a fine of $1,070 for each count of misdemeanor assault, anger management and mental health assessments — along with any follow-ups as a result of the assessments — as well as a court-recommended letter of apology to the victim.
A similar sentence was imposed on Ricky’s brother Demytrick Ali’ifua for his role in the attack. Demytrick was also sentenced to 180 days of suspended jail time, 12 months probation and anger management and mental health assessments, as well as a $1,070 fine for one count of misdemeanor assault, a $680 fine for rioting and two days of jail diversion.
Ricky played defensive end for the Aggies and was signed to the Seattle Seahawks in August 2018. Demytrick is currently an offensive lineman for the Aggies in his junior year.
The charges were the result of a fight that took place at a Halloween party at Castle Manor in Hyde Park in October 2017, where Ricky was working as security for the event. It was reported the victim was sucker-punched by Ricky after he and the victim physically bumped into each other 30 minutes prior. After the victim was knocked down, it was reported Demytrick and Aaron Wade — who also played football for Utah State — joined in the altercation. The entirety of the attack was caught on video.
Jonathan Jenkins, the attorney representing the plaintiff in this case, said the victim suffered dental damage, a concussion, lacerations to his lip and was knocked unconscious by the attack. Jenkins argued the assault could have resulted in a fatality.
“Punches to the head are lethal,” said Jenkins in his statement to the court. “The luckiest thing for Mr. Ali’ifua in this case is that he didn’t kill this victim.”
Defense attorney Shannon Demler said that’s going a little far.
“We know this is a serious matter, we’re not saying it’s not,” said defense attorney Shannon Demler. “I think to refer to it as a possible murder situation seems to be a little extreme.”
In his victim impact statement to the court, the victim’s father said the injuries suffered were “extensive and expensive,” and the “premeditated” attack has left his son in a perpetual state of fear “that bully Ricky will try to finish it.”
“Nearly two years after the attack, (the victim) relives the attack every day and every night as he tries to sleep,” the victim’s father said. “There is no end in sight.”
The victim’s father said the preferential treatment of football players is at the foundation of the case. He said the attackers were already given extreme leniency by not being charged with felony aggravated assault — averring that class B misdemeanors don’t usually have “victims and certainly not victims with permanent injuries.”
“In an effort to protect the attacker’s rights, and possibly to protect the reputation of Utah State and its football program, the innocent victims have been forgotten and completely ignored,” the victim’s father said.
It was also alleged that Ricky had defrauded Cache Valley citizens by claiming to be impecunious — despite a $363,000 contract with the Seattle Seahawks — and therefore granted a public defender.
Demler said he was there as a private attorney and has not billed the city as a public defender. Ricky said he was not under contract with the Seahawks at the time the case started, and after two months with the team he sustained an injury during playing time and was released.
“I’m not asking for any favors,” Ricky said. “And I don’t believe that I’ve received any favors or any favoritism throughout this trial process.”
Restitution was left open for the claimant to produce bills for the damages, though Ricky volunteered to pay the restitution outright. If there is a dispute regarding restitution, a restitution hearing will be scheduled.
Both Ricky and Demytrick have 28 days from Monday to appeal the decision.