Suspended SOSU students charged

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DURANT, OK -- The legal trouble continues for five SOSU students accused of staging robberies that they say were just April Fool's jokes.

The students claimed they were only playing a prank when they broke into friends' homes, but the victims say they were terrified. The men have already been suspended by the university. Now, authorities say they're facing several criminal charges and warrants have been issued for their arrests.

On April 2, five SOSU students, who are now suspended from the university, allegedly tried to break into seven homes and apartments -- managing to get into three. Authorities say April Fool's joke or not, this is a crime.

"We felt that criminal charges were in fact appropriate at this time. We filed six different counts against each individual that was allegedly involved," District 19 Attorney Emily Redman said.

Matthew Leatherwood, Jercolby Bradley, Krishon Daye, Arinzechukwu "Izzy" Eziakor, and Keith Craddock, who's not pictured, are each charged with assault and battery, among other things. Warrants have been issued for their arrests.

An affidavit states that one of those robberies took place right here. Two victims were inside the apartment. They told police the five masked men banged on the front door and when one of the residents opened it, he was pushed backwards, forced to the ground and held there, with what he believes was a gun to his head. All victims told police they were threatened with guns.

"The individuals certainly were frightened," Redman said. "The allegation is that these five gentlemen went into the bedrooms of a couple of different female alleged victims, lifted them out of their beds, took them to the living area of their apartments."

Redman says the suspects demanded money, cell phones and electronics. Nothing was stolen from the victims.

"We're still standing with them so far as their constitutional rights," NAACP member Arlene Barnum said.

Members of Ardmore's NAACP say while they do not support the men's choice of prank, they say the way SOSU handled the situation violated the students' rights, and even protested those suspensions in May.

"One of the things that we were concerned with is they were not allowed to have an attorney with them when they were charged with the sanctions from the school," Barnum said.

The five men are suing SOSU because of their suspensions. They claim the school denied their right to an attorney during disciplinary proceedings. The lawsuit asks the court to review the case, or issue a new "Committee on Student Conduct" Hearing. The University has declined to comment.

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