Posted on Wed, Sep. 12, 2007

OU fan accused of gruesome injury to man clad in UT shirt
By SEAN MURPHY
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY -- To some University of Oklahoma football fans, there are things that just aren't done in the heart of Sooner Nation, and one of them is to walk into a bar wearing a Texas Longhorns T-shirt.
That's exactly what touched off a bloody skirmish that left a University of Texas fan nearly castrated and an Oklahoma fan facing aggravated assault charges that could put him in prison for up to five years.
The case has set off a raging debate in this football-crazed region about the extreme passions behind a bitter rivalry. Some legal observers even question whether this case could ever truly have an impartial jury.
"I've actually heard callers on talk radio say that this guy deserved what he got for wearing a Texas T-shirt into a bar in the middle of Sooner country," said Irven Box, an attorney in this city 20 miles from OU's campus in Norman.
Police say Brian Christopher Thomas, 32, walked into Henry Hudson's Pub on June 17 wearing a Longhorns T-shirt and quickly became the focus of football trash talk from another regular, Sooners fan Allen Michael Beckett, 53.
Thomas told police that when he went to the bar to pay his tab, Beckett grabbed him in the crotch, pulled him to the ground and wouldn't let go, even as other bar patrons tried to break it up.
It took more than 60 stitches to close the wound, and police interviewed Thomas at a nearby hospital.
Beckett's attorney, Billy Bock, concedes that his client commented about Thomas' shirt but said that it was just good-natured ribbing and that he apologized to Thomas when it appeared to upset the Texas fan. Later, Bock said, Thomas approached his client at the bar and threatened him.
Thomas' attorney disputes Beckett's version. "That's total malarkey," Hughes said. "My client never said a word to him. He got up to pay and when he paid and left a tip, the guy grabbed him."
Beckett, a church deacon, federal auditor and former Army combat veteran, has pleaded not guilty. His next court appearance comes Oct. 4, two days before the Sooners and Longhorns tangle in their annual football game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.