Webber to Get Jury Trial on Traffic Arrest
By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 8, 1998; Page B8
Washington Wizards star Chris Webber yesterday asked for and was granted a trial before a jury on three misdemeanors and six traffic violations stemming from a January traffic stop.
Webber's attorney, Marcell Solomon, made the request as the basketball player was scheduled to go on trial before Prince George's County District Court Judge John F. Kelly. Kelly immediately moved the case to Circuit Court. A trial date will be set within a week, but attorneys for both sides said they hope to reach a plea agreement before trial.
Webber, who attended the proceeding, did not speak during the brief hearing or afterward.
Outside the courtroom, Solomon said he hopes to reach a plea agreement with the Prince George's state's attorney's office before the trial.
"If we can't reach an agreement, we're prepared for trial," Solomon said. "I think the state's attorney's office is receptive to something short of a jury trial."
State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson said yesterday that he has made Solomon "a very good offer."
"I thought it was fair and took into consideration all of the issues involved in the case," said Johnson, who declined to specify the offer.
In addition to the traffic violations, Webber is charged with second-degree assault, resisting arrest and marijuana possession stemming from a Jan. 20 traffic stop by a Prince George's police officer in the 9100 block of Landover Road.
The officer who stopped Webber for speeding used pepper spray on the Wizards forward after Webber allegedly refused to get out of the sport utility vehicle he was driving and slammed the driver's-side door.
Police impounded the vehicle and said they found the butt of a marijuana cigarette in the front center ashtray and marijuana residue on the floor behind the driver's seat.
Although a misdemeanor under Maryland law, the second-degree assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $2,500.
On April 23, Webber testified before a Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles administrative law judge who will decide whether his driving privileges should be suspended for 120 days.
Webber is awaiting the judge's ruling, Solomon said yesterday. The judge has 30 days to rule, he said.
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