Kenrick's legal woes on frontburner

Second-year NT Kenrick Ellis' legal odyssey could come into focus over the next two weeks.

Ellis, facing a felony charge for malicious wounding, is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Thursday in Hampton, Va., where he allegedly attacked a man in April, 2010. The criminal trial, already postponed twice, is set to begin May 22.

Ellis was a student at Hampton University when the alleged incident occurred. He faces up to 20 years if convicted.

The Jets were aware of the pending charges when they selected Ellis in the third round of the 2011 draft. A potential complication is that Ellis is not a U.S. citizen. Ellis, a native of Jamaica who moved to Florida at the age of 11, has "permanent resident" status. A permanent resident convicted of an aggravated felony is deportable, according to immigration law. People close to Ellis have said the alleged victim harassed his girlfriend and came after him with a baseball bat, prompting the lineman to act in self-defense.

Ellis also is facing a civil suit. It was filed last April by Dennis Eley, who is seeking $3 million in damages. In his complaint, obtained by ESPNNewYork.com, he accused Ellis of beating him unconcious and breaking his nose and jaw, requiring two surgeries.

Eley's attorney, S. Howard Woodson, recently withdrew the suit, but that was only a technicality -- it was about to lapse under Virginia state law -- and he told ESPNNewYork.com he intends to re-file.