Lindros Says Woman Started It She Poured Beer On Him First, He Testified, And He Never Spit On Her. A Decision Is Expected Monday.

Posted: February 05, 1993

OSHAWA, Ontario — Standing ramrod straight, his hands clasped tightly in front of him, Eric Lindros testified yesterday that after a woman poured beer down his back without provocation, he retaliated by "sprinkling" some beer on her, setting off a "beer fight" that he thought had been waged in fun.

Lindros, 19, denied spitting beer in the face of the woman, Lynn Nunney, 24, as he is accused of doing in a charge of misdemeanor assault.

Lindros said he did squirt "one or two teaspoons" of beer out of his mouth, but not in Nunney's direction. He said the beer did not hit anyone. ''I'm not very good at it," he said of squirting beer with his mouth.

This was the third day of the trial of the Flyers' rookie center, and when Lindros finished about two hours of testimony, the defense rested.

Provincial Court Judge J.R. Morgan, who is hearing the case without a jury, said he would announce his decision Monday morning. If Lindros is found guilty of the misdemeanor, he could be fined or sentenced to a short jail term.

Wearing a light-olive suit with a starched white shirt and tie, Lindros testified that he went to KooKoo Bananas on Saturday, Nov. 28, to meet some friends he had not seen since the NHL season started in early October. He said he had two beers before he got to the bar and then drank four beers between arriving about 10:15 p.m. and leaving about 1 a.m. The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19.

Lindros said he spent most of the time in the sports bar of the club, watching the conclusion of that night's Flyers-Islanders game on TV. Near the end of the evening, he said, one of his friends told him he had to dance.

"In our social group, if that's what you want to call it," Lindros said, ''we have a rule that, even if you're in a wheelchair or on crutches, you have to dance at least one dance as a group."

Lindros was not with the Flyers then because he had sprained his left knee Nov. 22. He was wearing a knee brace, and he said he stood in one spot on the dance floor, moving his upper body only slightly. "It wasn't Dance Fever," he said.

His testimony contradicted that of Nunney, who said that Lindros had moved her across the dance floor by elbowing her and that, when she stood her ground and refused to be pushed against a wall, Lindros poured beer over her head and then spit beer in her face.

Defense attorney Earl Levy called five other witnesses, all of whom testified that they saw Nunney pour beer on Lindros before he retaliated.

"To find him guilty, your honor, you're going to have to conclude that all five witnesses lied," Levy said in his closing statement.

Three of the five witnesses said they hadn't known who Lindros was. Levy said that indicated they had no motive to lie. He said Nunney's story had been corroborated by her sister and her best friend.

"What motive is there for Miss Nunney to lie?" Levy said in his closing statement. "I don't know, but the burden on the defense is not to prove a motive, but just prove reasonable doubt."

In response to questions from prosecutor Lisa Grant, Lindros repeatedly denied that he had poured beer on Nunney first. He said when he felt beer being poured down his collar, he shook up his bottle of beer as he turned to see who had done it.

"I thought, 'Uh oh, here we go - beer fight,' " Lindros said.

"So you shook the beer before you even knew who did it, so you were ready to retaliate?" Grant asked pointedly.

"It's one thing to arm a gun," replied Lindros, "it's another to shoot it. . . . I wasn't looking for trouble."

After he'd shaken his bottle, he said, it turned out there wasn't enough beer to spray, so he resorted to sprinkling. He said the whole incident, during which many dancers sprayed beer, lasted less than a minute.

Soon afterward, he said, a friend directed him to the kitchen area of the bar, where he found Nunney talking to a police officer about filing charges against him. The officer, off-duty and employed by the bar, suggested they settle the problem themselves, perhaps by having Lindros offer an apology.

"I said: 'She started the beer fight and I'm not going to apologize for something I didn't commit,' " Lindros said.

He acknowledged that he told Nunney he made $3.5 million a year and would fight her in court. "Usually," he said, "I don't boast about money, and I shouldn't have brought the money up, but I was frustrated."

Grant used her cross-examination to try to portray Lindros as a bully. She asked him why he didn't just walk away from Nunney when she first poured beer on him.

"Why should I?" he snapped. "I hadn't seen my friends in two months and I was just standing there not bothering anyone. Why would I move?"

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