A two-time former state high school wrestling champion is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Baltimore on two assault cases from 2009 and 2010. Depending on the outcome, Patrick Downey III, an 18-year-old from Linthicum Heights, could resurrect his promising athletic career on the college level — or go to jail.

Downey's attorney, Warren Brown, said last week that he hopes to clear his client of the first- and second-degree charges and that Downey will not accept a plea deal.

If convicted, Downey could receive up to 25 years in prison for first-degree assault and up to 10 years for second-degree assault.

Initially allowed to wrestle and play football despite the fact that school administrators at North County High knew of the two arrests in Baltimore, Downey's athletic career came to a halt last September when he and three others were charged by Anne Arundel County police with assault and robbery of a fellow North County High School student. All of the Anne Arundel charges were eventually dropped, but not before Downey was suspended from the Glen Burnie school, placed on "home teaching" and not allowed to participate in either sport.

Downey left Maryland for Florida in December with hopes of wrestling for a nationally ranked high school program outside Orlando, but he was not eligible. When prosecutors in Anne Arundel County dropped the charges against Downey and the others in March, he returned to Maryland and finished his senior year at North County.

Patrick Carey, his co-defendant in one of the Baltimore cases and a former wrestling teammate at North County, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in December. Carey, now a freshman at North Carolina State whose own wrestling career was interrupted by the court case, received three years' supervised probation.

The pair were accused in an incident outside a club on Guilford Avenue in Baltimore in June 2010.

Downey and Carey were charged with assaulting two Navy football players after one of the Midshipmen, Keegan Wetzel, allegedly asked Downey's girlfriend for her phone number inside the club. According to charging documents, Wetzel was attacked inside the club and the fracas continued after bouncers at Bourbon Street Ballroom threw the group out.

Seven months earlier, Downey was accused of punching a Towson University student in the face in a parking lot at M&T Bank Stadium after the annual Turkey Bowl high school game. Connor Little told police that his jaw was broken and four teeth were knocked out during the attack.

Downey's father, Patrick Downey Jr., said that Little and some other college students surrounded his son, taunting him, and that his son acted in self-defense.

"I did not raise my son to be a thug," the senior Downey said. "But I didn't raise my son to be a pansy, either, or to be someone's punching bag."

His son did not comment for this article.

Characterizing the brawl with the Midshipmen as "a damn fistfight", the senior Downey added that he hoped these experiences will be a "wake-up call" for his son.

But he was also quick to assert that his son "was defending himself … to be honest, I really don't think he did anything wrong in the two incidents."

During Downey's freshman year in high school at Mount St. Joseph's, he punched another student, Downey's father and a former coach confirmed. Downey did not return for his sophomore year. School officials declined to comment.

Downey spent the next year at Loch Raven High School, where he was undefeated in wrestling, and then joined Carey at North County for his junior year, where Downey again was undefeated in wrestling and became the school's starting quarterback. Downey was one of three juniors selected to the state's Super 22 all-star team.

Downey spent last week competing in the prestigious Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. In May, Downey became the seventh Maryland wrestler to win the Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., in the event's 22-year history. He won in the 189-pound weight class in the freestyle competition despite not wrestling competitively for more than year.

Downey, who will turn 19 next month, is set to wrestle for an Oregon community college program that won last season's national championship, and his attorney is hoping that those deciding his fate in court will consider his potential. Several top Division I programs, include Penn State, stopped recruiting Downey after his arrest last fall when reports surfaced of his previous arrests.

"He's got a much longer future than he does a past, that's the good thing about being young," said Brown. "The whole experience will have a potential therapeutic effect. When you're an athlete, the more you have to lose, the more you have to hold back when you're about to cold-cock somebody."

Baltimore City Assistant State's Attorney Ben Davis has declined to talk about the cases.

Cornell Bass, a former communications director and board member for the Maryland State Wrestling Association, said he has worked in recent months with Downey, advising him as a "lifestyle coach" about how to avoid potential conflicts.

"He doesn't know how to walk away," Bass said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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