DARIEN — Legal proceedings for Darien teenagers accused of assaulting a New Canaan juvenile are moving forward as questions fly about what really happened in the basement of the New Canaan home where an alleged fight occurred.
Snapchat, trash talking, and a deep-seated sports rivalry led to the confrontation that resulted in the arrest of three Darien teens, according to court documents released last week.
Darien High School star quarterback Jack Joyce and Brian Minicus, a wide receiver and defensive back on the school’s football team, and a 17-year-old juvenile turned themselves in to New Canaan police Nov. 22, the eve of the annual Turkey Bowl.
Joyce, 18, was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer, and Minicus, 18, was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree unlawful restraint. The 17-year-old was charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and second-degree unlawful restraint.
Minicus appeared in Norwalk Court Dec. 6 with his attorney, Stephan Seeger. Wearing a dark blue blazer, light blue button-down shirt, khakis and a pink tie, the Darien High School senior and his attorney requested he be considered for an accelerated rehabilitation program.
Seeger said he hopes the accelerated rehab application will be accepted, saying many of the allegations made against Minicus are the results of misunderstandings and the stories in the arrest warrant show inconsistent and conflicting accounts.
“I think some of this might be chalked up to young boys being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Seeger told Hearst Connecticut Media.
Seeger said he looked into the incident and found there was a history of “fighting words” sent to Minicus by the victim, including photos of weapons Seeger said were meant to intimidate his client. He also said he has people with post-incident statements he has asked be passed along to police, whom he expects to reopen the investigation.
“From our perspective, this is not an ambush ‘beat-down’ case,” he said. “My belief is that inaccurate and untruthful statements have led to my client’s arrest under such a theory. The most accurate and telling facts reported thus far, based upon our own current investigation, are that my client shook the victim’s hand after an altercation and the two essentially went their separate ways.”
The charges against Minicus and Joyce stem from a Nov. 6 incident that began on Snapchat with the New Canaan teen teasing a Darien girl about how New Canaan High was superior to her school, court documents said.
The victim said he then received a snap from the girl’s phone with a picture of Joyce, court documents said.
“It’s Joyce,” the message read, according to court documents. “We’re coming.”
The Darien girl told police she was at a party and Joyce used her phone to trash-talk with the victim, court documents said. The girl said Joyce, Minicus and the victim have “a history of trash-talking each other.”
The girl said she suggested going to the New Canaan party where the victim, a family friend, was after the party in Darien ended. She said she knew there would be some sort of confrontation, but did not realize it would turn physical, court documents said.
A “carload of Darien kids arrived” to the New Canaan party and confronted the victim, court documents said.
Joyce later told police the Darien teens had gone to a side door of the New Canaan home and entered after knocking. A girl in the kitchen led the group downstairs where the New Canaan kids were hanging out. The girl who was hosting the New Canaan party told police the teens had been to her house before, but she told them over Snapchat not to come and said they were not invited.
The victim said the 17-year-old Darien boy and another teen held him down while Minicus placed him in a headlock and punched him in the face about 12 times, court documents said. Witnesses also said they saw Minicus punching the victim and confirmed the 17-year-old who was charged was involved in the fight.
One of the victim’s friends broke up the fight and made the Darien teens leave the house, court documents said. Witnesses said the victim and the Darien teens shook hands before they left.
Witnesses said Joyce came downstairs during the fight, which lasted between 15 and 20 minutes, and yelled at another teen who pushed him away, court documents said.
A witness told police the victim had to ice his face after the incident.
The victim reported the incident to police the next day. Police said the victim had cuts on the side of his face, bruising under his right eye and a red nose. His left knee was also swollen, police said.
The victim’s father told police Minicus attempted to apologize to his son through text messages and came to their house to try to resolve the issue, court documents said. Police saw screenshots of the texts where Minicus said he knew the teen wasn’t going to do anything, but he wanted to apologize so his family didn’t press charges.
Police called in several witnesses at the party, as well as Minicus, Joyce and the 17-year-old.
Joyce originally told police he stayed away from the fight and was speaking with New Canaan students while it happened. He also denied sending the victim any messages, except for a picture of his middle finger sent after the victim sent a photo of his middle finger, court documents said.
Joyce said the 17-year-old Darien teen who was charged was responsible for the messages to the victim, court documents said. When asked if he remembered yelling at anyone, Joyce initially said no. He then said he yelled at a girl who was yelling at him but was not involved in the fight.
The 17-year-old blamed Minicus for the messages, court documents said. The 17-year-old also told police he witnessed a brief altercation between Minicus and the victim, but said he was not involved in the fight. However, police said witnesses contradicted the 17-year-old’s story.
Mark Sherman, the juvenile’s attorney, said his client does not regret cooperating with the investigation.
“He was one of the few students to come forward. It defies logic that of the 10 or more kids in that small basement, nobody saw this fight,” the Stamford-based criminal defense attorney said.
Sherman expects the full story of what happened that night will come out during the court process.
Minicus and Joyce were originally scheduled to appear in Norwalk Court Dec. 5, but their hearings were moved last minute. While Minicus appeared the following day, Joyce is not due to appear until Dec. 14. Minicus will follow up on his accelerated rehab request Jan. 17.
Matthew Maddox, who is representing the victim, said he is unsure whether or not he will object to Minicus’ request for entry into an accelerated rehab program.
“My client, his family and I will be following the case every step of the way and trust the court system,” said the New Canaan attorney.
Seeger said he is working with Maddox to ensure both parties are fairly represented and can move forward with their futures.
“Sadly, the most serious of injuries in this case are likely to surface as collateral consequences of the arrest and not physical injuries to either party,” he said. “My client is the age where college academic and athletic aspirations are at the forefront of his life; false or misleading accusations that hinder his pursuits demand careful investigation. Accordingly, we continue to review evidence in this case, and while we have no obligation to prove or disprove anything here, it is our intention to shed light upon aspects of this case that have been overlooked or missed in an effort to bring about a just and expeditious resolution.”
New Canaan police said they would not comment further on the investigation.
Joyce and Minicus did not play in Darien’s loss to New Canaan on Thanksgiving Day, ending the Blue Wave’s 34-game winning streak.
Joyce, who threw for 1,877 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for 351 during the regular season, returned to the lineup Nov. 28. He scored all three of the team’s touchdowns in Darien’s 30-10 win over East Hartford in the state quarterfinals and went on to play against West Haven in the Class LL semifinals.
Minicus has missed the last three games and his status is uncertain for the team’s Class LL championship game against Greenwich on Saturday, Dec. 9.