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Fan Pleads No Contest To Charge In Brawl

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page D02

A fan charged with throwing a chair during one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history pleaded no contest yesterday to a felony assault count.

Bryant Jackson was the only one of the 13 players and fans charged with a felony for their alleged role in the Nov. 19 melee during an Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.

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Oakland County (Mich.) Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot indicated she would sentence Jackson to up to three months in jail, but he could get probation if he expresses remorse at the sentencing hearing May 3.

Assistant county prosecutor Paul Walton, however, said his office would request a sentence of one year in jail.

Jackson and his lawyer, Christopher McGrath, declined to comment after the hearing.

Jackson, 37, is accused of dislodging a chair and heaving it over his head, hitting several people. He also is accused of throwing a drink at the Pacers as they left the court area.

He pleaded no contest to one count of felony assault and one count of misdemeanor assault and battery. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

Three other fans were sentenced to probation earlier this month.

A motion hearing is scheduled for April 8 in the cases of the five Pacers charged in the brawl -- Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison -- and the other fans.

The brawl was sparked when a Detroit player shoved Artest after a hard foul. The two were separated, and Artest cooled off before being doused by a cup of beer thrown from the crowd. Artest rushed into the stands and began beating a man he thought had thrown the beer. As a result of the brawl, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, Jackson received 30 games and O'Neal got 25.

-- From News Services

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