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Washington Wizards' Javaris Crittenton pleads guilty to gun charge

By Keith L. Alexander and Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 26, 2010; D01

Wizards reserve guard Javaris Crittenton pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court on Monday to a misdemeanor gun possession charge stemming from his locker room confrontation with Gilbert Arenas at Verizon Center last month. He was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop a second misdemeanor charge and not seek jail time. Senior Judge Bruce Beaudin accepted the plea and sentenced Crittenton to the probation and $1,250 in fines. Crittenton also agreed to begin a mentoring program for District children and to work with the NBA on relief for Haiti earthquake victims.

Crittenton, 22, was charged Monday with unlawful possession of a firearm and attempting to carry a pistol without a license, both misdemeanors. Each charge carried a maximum year in jail.

"I accept full responsibility for my bad judgment and terrible mistake," a soft-spoken Crittenton told the judge. "I apologize to the District of Columbia, the Wizards, the NBA and my family for the embarrassment. I made a bad decision. This will never happen to me again." Crittenton's mother sat in the audience a few rows behind him.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Kavanaugh revealed new details of the now-infamous argument between Crittenton and Arenas that led to the gun incident, and how Crittenton feared for his safety.

On Dec. 19, prosecutors say, the team flew on a chartered flight to the Washington area from Phoenix. Arenas and Crittenton got into an argument over a card game, and Crittenton suggested a fistfight. But Arenas said he was too old to fight and instead said he would burn Crittenton's car or shoot him in the face. Crittenton then told Arenas he would "shoot the [expletive]" out of Arenas and shoot Arenas in his surgically repaired left knee, prosecutors said.

Arenas later told Wizards employees that he was joking about the threats. But Crittenton told prosecutors that he took Arenas's threats seriously and packed the gun in his bag and brought it to Verizon Center for protection.

On Dec. 21, about 9:30 a.m., Arenas arrived at Verizon Center for practice. He came into the locker room wearing a black backpack with a silver Smith & Wesson .500 magnum revolver inside. He then placed four guns on the chair directly in front of Crittenton's locker. Arenas wrote "PICK 1" on a piece of paper and placed it on Crittenton's chair near the guns. Arenas said he also was joking.

When Crittenton saw the guns, he said, "What is this?"

Arenas told Crittenton, "You said you were going to shoot me, so pick one."

Crittenton said he did not need Arenas's guns because he had his own, prosecutors said in court papers. Crittenton picked up one of the guns from the chair and threw it across the locker room.

Crittenton then displayed his own pistol, a silver-colored, 9mm Taurus semiautomatic. But Crittenton never pointed the unloaded gun at Arenas, prosecutors said.

Arenas then told Crittenton: "You're going to need more than that little gun."

Crittenton's attorney, Peter White, added that Crittenton only saw three of the guns Arenas placed outside of his locker. Arenas then allegedly told Crittenton, "If I'm giving you these three guns, imagine what I have in my car."

The plea agreement was struck early Monday and the hearing was expedited onto Beaudin's calendar over the lunch break. Unlike the media- and fan-crazed entrance by Arenas when he entered the courthouse Jan. 15, Crittenton and his attorneys entered the courthouse completely unnoticed by dozens of court attendees gathered in the hallways.

During the 45-minute hearing, Beaudin used the time to remind Crittenton that many people, especially young people, were watching him.

"You are not the normal defendant. I want this to send a message to others, such as young people, who may have guns," the judge said.

Arenas, 28, pleaded guilty to a felony charge this month and faces sentencing March 26. As part of Arenas's plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than six months in jail. The NBA has suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay.

Crittenton, an Atlanta native, who was traded to the Wizards in 2008 from the Memphis Grizzlies, is expected to meet with NBA officials Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5 guard hasn't played this season because of an injury. The Wizards have declined to pick up his fourth-year option, making him a free agent next summer. His attorney said this was his first arrest.

The Wizards released this statement: "The charges filed today against Javaris Crittenton and his subsequent plea represent another disappointing development in what has already been a long and frustrating process for the team, the NBA and, most importantly, our fans. Javaris clearly used very bad judgment in this situation and will now face the consequences of his actions."

An NBA spokesman said the league would have no comment at this time.

On Jan. 14, Arlington and D.C. police searched Crittenton's home looking for the gun, according to sources familiar with the investigation and court papers. Police did not find the gun or seize any other evidence at the home, Crittenton's attorney and the court papers said at the time. Prosecutors said Crittenton has since surrendered the gun.

At the meeting with NBA officials, White said his client "looks forward to explaining his actions to the NBA and returning to the basketball court as soon as possible."

Staff writer Michael Lee contributed to this report.

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