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Carson Lee (Boulder County Sheriff's Office)
Carson Lee (Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

A Boulder judge rejected a proposed plea deal for a former University of Colorado Boulder football player accused of assault, saying the punitive sanction was too lenient.

Carson Lee, 20, is charged with second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury and third-degree assault.

At an arraignment hearing Friday in Boulder District Court, attorneys proposed a plea deal that would have given Lee a deferred sentence with a punitive sanction of three days of work crew and community service.

But Boulder District Judge Thomas Mulvahill refused to accept the plea deal, saying the punitive sanction was not serious enough considering the allegations.

“He caused a fractured skull,” Mulvahill said.

According to an affidavit, a CU Boulder student walking in the University Hill area overnight between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 came across a woman who was intoxicated. The student ordered the woman a ride, and then went in the vehicle with her when she asked him to help her get home.

They arrived at an address in Boulder where Lee was waiting. The student said as he was leaving, Lee suddenly started yelling at him and then shoved him to the ground and repeatedly punched him.

According to the affidavit, the man said Lee punched him about 30 times. Doctors later said the man suffered a fractured skull and internal brain bleeding.

At the hearing Friday, the student said he had to drop out of classes for a semester and still can’t hear out of one of his ears and deals with balance issues. He also said he likely has more surgeries ahead.

“I thought I did what was right, and because of that I was assaulted,” the student said. “This injury has totally changed my life.”

The student’s father also addressed the court because he had flown in to Colorado in anticipation of a plea deal. While the father said they don’t want Lee to go to prison, the punitive sanction in the proposed plea deal was “completely inadequate.”

“We want it to be a real consequence,” he said.

While Lee never entered an official guilty plea, he did ask to speak to the court since the named victim and his father happened to be there in person.

“I just want to let them know, I apologize for what I did,” Lee said.

Mulvahill told the named victim and his father that it was not the deferred sentence he opposed, and that he felt it was a good opportunity for Lee but was also a “risk reward” deal.

In a deferred judgement, a defendant is allowed to withdraw the guilty plea if they successfully complete the terms of the sentence and do not pick up any new charges. If they are not successful in completing the deferred sentence, they are subject to sentencing on the felony conviction.

“It’s not an uncommon process here in Colorado and here in my courtroom,” Mulvahill said.

But Mulvahill said he would not accept a plea until attorneys worked out a more serious punitive sanction.

Attorneys said they would discuss a plea deal that involved letting Mulvahill determine a punitive sanction with a limit on jail or work release time, and agreed to come back on Thursday with a new proposal.

Lee will remain out of custody on a personal recognizance bond.

A highly-recruited center out of Cherry Creek High School, Lee was part of the Buffs’ 2020 class but only played a handful of games before his arrest.

Lee has since entered the transfer portal and is no longer on the team.