Washington Redskins wide receiver Ricky Sanders pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of aggravated assault and failure to stop and render aid to an accident victim in connection with a May 1 incident in the parking lot of a Houston topless bar.
Judge Donald Shipley of Harris County's 102nd District Court set an Oct. 22 trial date for Sanders, who is accused of striking a parking-lot attendant with his auto after the two argued over a pair of missing hubcaps.
Legal sources in Texas have said about 90 percent of such charges are settled before going to trial, but if the case does get that far, it could force Sanders to miss a game. His trial date is scheduled for the day after the Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles and six days before they play the New York Giants in New York.
Azzam (Sam) Jamus, 29, who works for United Parking at The Men's Club topless bar said Sanders struck him with the car, causing serious injuries. Jamus also has filed a civil suit against Sanders, asking for an unspecified sum of money for injuries he claims required six days of hospital treatment.
If convicted, Sanders faces a maximum of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 on the charge of aggravated assault and up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine on the charge of failing to stop and render aid, said prosecutor Marc Brown.
Sanders, a Redskin since 1986, said he left the upscale nightclub to find his hubcaps missing. The valets, however, said the hubcaps were missing when Sanders arrived, said his attorney, Cindy Henley.
Jamus, vice president of the parking company, came to defend his workers and argued with Sanders. As he turned to leave, Jamus said, Sanders drove off the lot and hit him. Jamus said he spent a month at home recuperating and still is plagued by headaches and dizziness.
Sanders's attorneys said they're skeptical of Jamus's story. They pointed out a criminal complaint was sworn out 2 1/2 months after the incident, and Jamus admitted he had been attempting to get a financial settlement during that time.
Sanders has said in the past he's innocent of the charges, and his attorneys say if he wasn't a professional athlete, no charges would have been brought.
Sanders was scheduled to fly from Houston to Cleveland last night to join the Redskins, who will play the Browns Saturday night.