Morris twins charged with felony aggravated assault for Jan. 24 incident

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris have been charged with felony aggravated assault following an incident on Jan. 24 at a Phoenix recreation center.

The Morris twins are among five men charged in the alleged assault of a 36-year-old man at the Nina Mason Pulliam Recreation Center. Another of the men, Gerald Bowman, was a safety at USC who is preparing for this year's NFL draft. Their first court appearance is scheduled for May 7.

"We have been advised by our attorneys not to discuss this case or make any statements about it. We are sorry for the distraction this has caused to our fans and the Suns," Marcus and Markieff Morris said in a statement.

Their agent, Leon Rose, said he was confident his clients would be cleared.

The victim, Erik Hood, alleged that he attended a basketball tournament at the recreation center when he saw the Morris brothers enter the gym with three other men: Bowman, Julius Kane and Christopher Melendez.

After the game, police say Hood was confronted by Kane and struck from behind on the head by Melendez. Hood tried to run to his car but had been dazed by the initial blow to the head and fell to the ground, where he was then repeatedly punched and kicked by all five suspects. The assault was witnessed by a 27-year-old woman who had attended the game with Hood.

Hood was taken to the emergency room at Phoenix Baptist Hospital, where he was treated for a broken nose, bruises and abrasions.

Hood told detectives that he has known the Morris brothers since they were in high school and that he mentored the brothers through college. The Morris twins denied to police that they were involved in the assault and that they knew Hood.

Police say that Hood was assaulted for sending "an inappropriate text message" to the mother of the Morris brothers some time before the incident.

In a statement released to ESPN through a spokesman, Phoenix police said: "Because the offense occurred at a basketball tournament with over 100 in attendance, including many youth under the age of 18, the Phoenix Police detective assigned to this investigation was tasked with tracking down and interviewing all who may have been witness to the assault, including out-of-state attendees. After weeks of interviews and information-gathering, the detective was able to present a cognitive investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review."

The case was submitted to a grand jury on April 10, which resulted in a court summons to appear for Marcus and Markieff Morris and warrants for Kane, Bowman and Melendez.

The Suns signed the twins to four-year contract extensions worth a total of $52 million last summer, with Markieff getting $32 million and Marcus getting $20 million. Markieff Morris averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 31 minutes a game this season. Marcus Morris averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25 minutes a game.

"We are disappointed to learn that Marcus and Markieff Morris have been charged," the team said in a statement. "This is a serious matter, and we will treat it as such. However, at this time, we think it is most appropriate to continue to monitor the legal process as it unfolds before responding further."