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Antonie Kirk reacts as he is found guilty of aggravated assault and given a 16-year sentence is read in court during his trial in May 2021. 

While one former West Jones star was preparing to play defense in the college football national championship game, the defense attorney for one of his former star teammates was in Jones County Circuit Court trying to get him out of prison.

Antonie Kirk, 21, petitioned the court to let him bond out while he appeals his 16-year sentence for aggravated assault. Judge Dal Williamson has yet to rule on the matter.

Bay Springs attorney Nick Cerra noted that Kirk was a “well-known and well-regarded football player for West Jones High School” in the appeal that was filed and presented to the court last week.

Cerra also noted that his client had no prior criminal history and he showed  up as required for all court proceedings following his 2019 arrest, after which he was released on $5,000 bond.

“At no point between the setting of his bond to his conviction did Antonie Kirk do anything, whatsoever, to indicate that he constituted a special danger to any other person or to the community,” Cerra wrote, adding, “Moreover, the facts of this case involve a crime of recklessness, not a crime of intentional conduct on the part of the Defendant.

“Kirk has ... shown that he presents no danger to any person or to the community.”

The victim in the case, Ayterria Wright, disagreed with that in an an affidavit she filed in response to Kirk’s request.

“I don’t think he should be let out, because justice will not be served due to the fact that he intentionally caused the wreck that led me to be permanently put in a wheelchair,” Wright wrote. “The thought of him being out makes me feel very uncomfortable because his family lives 5 miles from my house.”

Wright noted that some of Kirk’s family members, and Kirk himself, had been in touch with her since he was sentenced to prison in June.

“His family members have contacted me multiple times harassing me and bribing me into letting Antonie out of prison,” she wrote. “When my mother passed, one of his family members commented on a post I made about my mother and said, ‘That’s karma for you.’”

Kirk’s mother also “texted me trying to convince me to let him be released” and “He also called and texted my phone trying to contact me.”

Wright was a star sprinter at West Jones and was in a relationship with Kirk when they got in a fight and he forced her into a vehicle he was driving in April 2019, according to testimony from her and two witnesses. “Black box” data from the 2005 Mercury Montego shows that Kirk was going 102 mph when he crashed off Trace Road.

Wright, who testified that she was begging for Kirk to stop and let her out, was paralyzed from the waist down. Attorney Michael Mitchell represented Kirk in the trial last May. District Attorney Tony Buckley urged the jury to “make (Kirk) accountable for his recklessness that evening” and noted that Kirk “never said he was sorry” and “has not shown one shred of sympathy.”

A jury made up five white women, four white men, two black men and one black woman deliberated for only 40 minutes before finding Kirk guilty. Before sentencing Kirk, the judge said that his case brings to light something that he sees too often.

“Some men treat women as if they’re a personal possession, and that’s a real problem in our society,” he said, adding that the evidence was “overwhelming” that this was a “case of enragement.”

In an earlier interview, Wright described Kirk as “obsessive,” recalling a time he hit her in the chest on the bus and fought with her at track practice. She showed text messages that she received from Kirk after the accident that appeared to be threatening her to not pursue any charges. Their then-16-year-old sisters got into a brutal brawl at West Jones that was captured on video around the time Kirk was charged. The fight was reportedly over the families’ feud, Wright said.

Kirk was a star player for the Mustangs at the same time current Alabama defensive lineman Byron Young suited up for the Soso school. Alabama won the national championship last season and played for the title again on Monday night, losing to Georgia.

Kirk was the leading receiver and defensive back on the Mustangs’ South State championship team that represented the school in its first trip to the state title game just a few months before the crash.

His case is currently pending before the state Court of Appeals and he is being housed in the Kemper County Correctional Facility, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections website.

Cerra noted that he was “in the process of collecting the identity of those who would vouch for” Kirk in a bond hearing.

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