Markieff Morris' attorney enters not guilty plea in battery case

Originally published August 21, 2008 at 4:24 p.m., updated August 21, 2008 at 5:02 p.m.

An attorney entered a not guilty plea for incoming Kansas University basketball player Markieff Morris Thursday in Lawrence Municipal Court and denied that his client fired an Airsoft rifle BB gun out of his Jayhawker Towers apartment Saturday night.

According to the KU Public Safety Office, Morris, 18, admitted to shooting the Airsoft rifle BB gun out of his apartment Saturday. A 47-year-old woman in the courtyard below received minor injuries when she was hit in the arm by a plastic pellet. According to a police report, Morris was suspected of using alcohol.

Brad Finkeldei, Morris' attorney, said the facts in the case haven't been accurately reported.

"Most importantly, Mr. Morris was not the person who fired the Airsoft pellet gun from the window," Finkeldei said. "He did not admit to firing the gun out the window."

Finkeldei said he wasn't able to comment further because of a pending investigation.

A Dec. 12 Lawrence Municipal Court hearing has been set in the case, in which Morris is charged with battery, although he could submit an application for diversion, the city prosecutor's office said.

The case does involve the possibility of jail time, City Prosecutor Tom Porter said.

Morris also faces possible university sanctions if he's found to have violated a student housing policy, which could include suspension from university housing, according to the KU Student Housing handbook.

"University code and housing policy expressly prohibits weapons of any type, including pellet guns and paintball guns," said university spokeswoman Jill Jess.

A university investigation will address whether an Airsoft BB gun is considered to be a weapon, Jess said. Federal law forbids the university from discussing student disciplinary investigations.

Ken Farris, a distributor of Airsoft guns in Lawrence, said the guns aren't considered weapons unless they're used as such.

"These things can be used in a game," Farris said of their intended purpose, "but it's not a toy that you're supposed to run around in public with or snipe people from windows."