Chris Washburn, North Carolina State University's star freshman basketball player, will stand trial on charges of second-degree burglary, a judge ruled today in U.S. District Court.
Wake County District Judge Narley Cashwell ordered Washburn's case bound over to Superior Court following a probable cause hearing today. During the hearing, prosecutors played a 20-minute taped conversation between Washburn and a police officer in which Washburn admitted taking the stereo.
After the hearing, Washburn, dressed in a gray pin-striped suit, refused comment. Washburn, a 6-foot-11 center from Hickory, N.C., has been suspended from the basketball team since Dec. 21, when he was charged with taking stereo equipment from the dormitory room of William West, a member of the football team.
No trial date was set, but state law requires that a trial be held within 120 days. N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano said this afternoon, after meeting with Washburn and his mother Savannah, that he had no comment to make on Washburn's status. He said he believed that Washburn had registered for second semester classes.
Before a packed courtroom this morning, prosecutors played a tape of a discussion between Washburn and Raleigh police officer Donald A. Weingarten. At one point on the tape, Washburn was heard to say, "I know I'm guilty of this."
Earlier in the questioning, Weingarten told Washburn to stop lying to him. Later, he added, "Chris, this is the real world. Jim Valvano cannot protect you."
There was testimony that Washburn's fingerprints were found on the inside ledge of a window in West's room. West, who was subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify, said that he had not given Washburn permission to take the stereo.
Dan Blue and Wade Smith, Washburn's lawyers, maintain that Washburn's removal of the stereo was merely a prank and said there was "no felonious intent" involved. West and Washburn knew each other when both were at Fork Union Military Academy two years ago.
West testified that Washburn earlier had suggested to him that he take the stereo home to keep it from being stolen during Christmas break. West also testified that pranks in the athletic dorm were common, but there had "never been a prank to this extent." Smith said Washburn's future could be ruined if he had to stand trial.
Late this afternoon, Valvano said, "I'm disappointed with what's gone on but I'm not uptight. People in your business (reporters) tend to analyze and categorize. I don't think you can do that when you are dealing with human beings."
State's record was 6-1 before Washburn's suspension. He was averaging 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. The Wolfpack then lost three of four before beating Virginia tonight, 51-45.