The prosecutor handling the sexual assault investigation of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston announced today the investigation was over and that he will discuss its results at a press conference tomorrow, according to The Associated Press.
State Attorney Willie Meggs has scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday in his office to announce his findings. The investigation was “not based on a football schedule or anyone else’s calendar,” Meggs said in a statement. “We think we have exhausted all investigative tools.”
Jason Melton, a former prosecutor in Miami and partner in a law firm that practices criminal defense around the state, said Meggs’ announcement likely indicates Winston will escape criminal charges.
“You would think if you’re going to make an announcement … the announcement is not going to be something about an arrest,” Melton said. “I can’t think of a time that that’s happened offhand.”
Said Jimmy Brown, a Tampa-area attorney: “It is possible they would announce that they have reached an up-front deal for Winston to appear in court on whatever date to plead to some much lesser offense. [But] I’d put the odds at 85 % it will be a ‘here’s why we aren’t going to bring a prosecution’ event.”
Melton was also critical of Meggs for not stepping aside and handing over the case to a prosecutor in another part of the state, given Florida State’s heavy influence in Tallahassee politics.
“I think the prosecuting authority has an obligation to the entire criminal justice system to disavow himself of the appearance of any impropriety,” he said. “There’s no way the public is going to have trust that he handled the case appropriately.”
The Tallahassee Police Department has already faced criticism for its handling of the investigation after the alleged victim’s attorney said a detective attempted to discourage them from pursuing the case.
Winston, who was named the ACC player of the year today, is also considered the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top college football player. Many voters have said they’re waiting to see whether Winston will be charged in the case before casting a ballot. Ballots are due by Monday.
“We currently are waiting for Meggs to finish his investigation,” Winston’s attorney Tim Jansen said in an email to BuzzFeed.
Update - 11:30 p.m., ET: This piece has been updated with Jimmy Brown’s comments.