2nd former Seton Hall player pleads not guilty

BY foxsports • March 22, 2010

A second former Seton Hall basketball player has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an armed robbery in northern New Jersey.

Kelly Whitney's lawyer entered the plea to robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and weapons charges Monday in a Newark courtroom. Whitney appeared via video link from the Essex County jail, where he is being held on $650,000 bail.

Whitney's attorney, Ronald Ricci, said his client insists he was not around for an alleged March 15 heist in which prosecutors say eight people were robbed at gunpoint in a South Orange home.

``He's adamant he's not the guy,'' Ricci said. ``He doesn't know anything about it.''

Prosecutors say Whitney acted as an accomplice with former Seton Hall forward Robert Mitchell, who pleaded not guilty Thursday.

The 23-year-old Mitchell was kicked off the team March 14 by coach Bobby Gonzalez, who has since been fired.

Whitney, 27, a Chicago native, played for the Pirates from 2002-2006, averaging 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in his senior season. The one-time center played on two teams that reached the NCAA tournament. He ranks 18th on the school's scoring list with 1,448 points, and is eighth in rebounds with 763.

Prosecutors allege that Mitchell and Whitney entered the home and forced the occupants by gunpoint into a common area, where they robbed them of credit cards, personal documents, cell phones, cameras and about $300 in cash.

Mitchell was arrested Tuesday on kidnapping, burglary and weapons offenses. Whitney was taken into custody Thursday at a Newark hotel.

State Superior Court Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez granted the prosecution's request Monday to bar Whitney from the Seton Hall campus and from any contact with students or potential witness.

Whitney's mother, Sharon Whitney, attended Monday's hearing and insisted her son was not involved.

``I feel Kelly is innocent,'' she said. ``He doesn't have this kind of lifestyle; he's a big teddy bear.''

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