TAMPA — Last year, Lee Louis Myers' description of a locker room incident involving a flag football teammate and a hockey stick landed him and three other Walker Middle School students in big trouble.
On Thursday, a prosecutor who once accused Myers, 15, of sexual battery changed her tune and credited him with helping officials unravel what happened.
"But for Lee Myers, the whole truth of this incident may not have come out," Assistant State Attorney Kimberly Hindman said.
His reward: The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office reduced his charges Thursday to felony battery and will drop the case against him entirely if he fulfills terms of a pretrial intervention agreement.
The deal includes speaking to his peers about the adverse effects of hazing and bullying and testifying truthfully against the remaining two defendants.
Raymond Price-Murray, 15, and Diemante J. Roberts, 16, still face four counts each of sexual battery. The victim in the case said they used a broom handle and hockey stick to assault him while Randall John Moye III and Myers held him down.
Moye, 15, pleaded guilty in February to one count of felony battery. He will receive juvenile sanctions in exchange for his testimony. Hindman said prosecutors decided to allow Myers to enter a pretrial diversion program instead because he did not participate in the attacks as many times as Moye.
Prosecutors had already dropped two of the four counts of sexual battery against Myers after his attorneys proved he was at baseball practice when some of the alleged attacks occurred. The victim told authorities he was attacked as many as 12 times in the locker room in spring 2009.
Hindman said it was Myers' words, not the victim's, that gave school officials the first hint of potential sexual abuse.
After being approached by coaches, Myers wrote a half-page statement in May 2009 describing one episode.
"We decided to have some fun," he wrote, "but we weren't trying to hurt him or anything like that."
Myers said Roberts grabbed a hockey stick in the locker room and "told us what to do." He said the other three agreed.
When they approached the victim, "he automatically fell to the ground," Myers wrote. "I held his arms while Raymond helped me. R.J. and Diemante started hitting him in the butt with the hockey stick. It only lasted for about 15-20 seconds, then we all stopped and walked away.
"After it happened, I walked up and said we were just playing around and didn't mean to hurt his feelings," Myers wrote.
On Thursday, defense attorney Tim Taylor said dozens of witnesses had been deposed since Myers and the others were charged with felonies in adult court.
"Not one of the eyewitnesses has implicated Lee Myers in this case," Taylor said.
Taylor emphasized that his client's not guilty plea stands. The agreement with the state also calls for a psychological evaluation, 50 hours of community service and no contact with the victim or remaining defendants.
"Lee Myers and his family are ready to turn the page on this and move on," Taylor said. "Ultimately, all of the charges against Lee Myers are going to be dismissed."
Myers did not speak during the hearing.
The victim and his family chose not to attend at all. Hindman said they were aware of the resolution and agreed with it.
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.