CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 22 -- Ricky Sanders of the Washington Redskins today was indicted for aggravated assault and failure to stop and render aid to an accident victim in a May 1 incident in the parking lot of a Houston topless bar.
Sanders will plead not guilty, perhaps on Friday morning when he is scheduled to appear before Judge Donald Shipley of Harris County's 182nd District Court in Houston.
No formal plea is required at that time, and Sanders's attorneys said they'll ask for a delay in the hearing to allow the star wide receiver to rejoin the Redskins, who are to play the Browns in Cleveland Saturday night.
Legal sources in Texas said 90 percent of such cases are settled before going to trial.
The indictment has been expected for several weeks. Charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault were filed against Sanders on July 20. After reviewing the case, the Harris County District Attorney's office decided to seek indictment on lesser charges.
It's still a serious matter. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony under Texas law and punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Failure to stop and render aid is punishable by prison terms of up to five years, a jail term of up to one year and a maximum $5,000 fine.
Immediate probation can be given for either charge.
Sanders was unavailable to comment, having left Dickinson College today shortly after rain forced Coach Joe Gibbs to end training camp a day early. He's expected to be at Redskin Park for both scheduled practices on Thursday, then fly to Texas for the hearing.
His troubles stem from allegations by valet parking attendant Sam Jamus that Sanders struck him with his auto after they argued over Sanders having accused him of stealing two hubcaps.
Jamus said he suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized several days. Mark Brown, the assistant district attorney who handled the case, said he had three witnesses, including Jamus, to support the charges.
Sanders's attorneys have told a drastically different story and say they have two witnesses, including Sanders, to support their side. They've also denied charges by Jamus's attorneys that Sanders was intoxicated.
They say that there was an argument, but that Sanders didn't strike Jamus with the auto. They say if there was any contact, it was initiated by Jamus, and they doubt his injuries. They deny that Jamus was rolled over the auto, as he has charged.
They point to the odd timing. Charges were filed 2 1/2 months after the incident, and a criminal complaint was sworn out only after Jamus's attorneys had tried to obtain a financial settlement from Sanders.
"If Ricky wasn't the person he is, we don't think there would have been a case," said Cindy Henley, one of Sanders's attorneys. "They waited two and a half months and the police had to be extremely skeptical. If this guy hadn't thought he could get something, nothing would have come of it."
However, Brown said he had investigated the time lag "and was satisfied that someone in the police department dropped the ball."
He insisted that Sanders wasn't treated any differently because of his celebrity. "This is a basic case," Brown said. "It's not special at all. It wasn't handled differently because it involved Ricky Sanders."
Redskins officials declined to comment on the matter. Gibbs has said he was disappointed that Sanders let himself get put in such a position.