|Updated: 12/08/2011 5:46 pm
||Published: 12/08/2011 4:54 pm
DOLLARWAY, AR - A Dollarway high school baseball coach accused of hitting one of his players with a baseball appeared in court Thursday afternoon. He appealed a lower court's decision that found him guilty of third degree battery.
Dollarway High School baseball coach Greg Cleveland hugs his family and supporters after a judge finds him not guilty of intentionally hurting one of his players at Taylor Field.
"It's one of those things that unfortunately happened," Cleveland said.
It happened last spring during a game. Coach Cleveland told the judge he had a ball his hand to calm his nerves during the game. When one of his players in the outfield caught a fly ball, Cleveland, in excitement, chunked the ball and charged the field, not knowing he hit Darrien Kidd Jr. in the eye.
An assistant coach, two players, and statistician testified as well, agreeing with Cleveland's earlier testimony.
"I love my kids,” Cleveland said. “Always did. I will do anything for them and they know it."
But Kidd's attorney argued Cleveland purposely threw the ball at Kidd because the two disagreed over the caught ball. As a result, Kidd suffered from a swollen eye and sat out the remainder of the season.
”That's the whole thing we're forgetting,” Cleveland said. “This man didn’t get to play his senior year of baseball and we wanted him back."
Those claims of intentional harm found Cleveland guilty in district court but in circuit court, the judge found the coach's actions negligent, but accidental in nature.