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Gophers' McNeil charged with 2 counts of felony assault; suspended indefinitely

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A University of Minnesota basketball player has been charged with two felonies stemming from an incident at his girlfriend's apartment in which he's accused of strangling her and whipping her repeatedly with a belt.

Daquein McNeil, 20, was charged Wednesday with third-degree assault, a felony, and domestic assault by strangulation, also a felony, according to Hennepin County jail records. If convicted of both charges, he could face up to eight years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000, according to state law.

A Statement of Probable Cause says McNeil went to his girlfriend of 10 month's apartment and repeatedly poured cold water over her and then tried to strangle her while saying, "You ruined my life, now I am going to ruin yours."

McNeil is also accused of damaging the victim's belongings with a cooking pan and taking items from her apartment, including her computer and her car, the Statement of Probable Cause says.

McNeil was arrested Monday on charges of probable cause domestic assault and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the felony charges at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

"This situation saddens and disappoints us," Freeman said, referencing McNeil's difficult childhood – his parents died two months apart, so he was raised by his aunt, according to video of the news conference posted by the Star Tribune. "The police report, the witnesses, the photographs of the wounds that his girlfriend has suffered are just not acceptable.’’

On Tuesday, university officials announced McNeil had been suspended from team activities pending the investigation. Following Wednesday's charges, University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague issued a statement:

University President Eric Kaler also issued a statement, saying he had zero tolerance for domestic abuse and that he agreed with Teague's decision to immediately suspend McNeil from the team.

McNeil, a sophomore guard, didn’t play much as a freshman, but he’s been a key reserve on this year’s team. Through four games, the 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds and he’s considered a 3-point shooting threat.

The Gophers play in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City this week. They play St. John’s on Wednesday and will play the winner or loser of Gonzaga versus Georgia on Friday.

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