Gilbert Arenas's day in court
I sat through Gilbert Arenas's appearance in D.C. court Friday afternoon. Arenas, as you've probably read, was soft-spoken and nearly silent throughout the proceeding, answering questions with "yes sir," "no sir," yes, your honor," and the like. There were about 25 reporters seated in the courtroom, and a handful of court employees standing in the back. Some U.S. Marshals were also gathered in the back, until they were asked to leave if they weren't working the case.
As surreal as this whole episode has been, there was nothing more unbelievable for me than Gilbert's entrance. Hands in pocket, he stood there in court, facing a judge, with none of the personality he shows in the court or on the locker room. It was just sad.
Gilbert's lawyer almost immediately said he would be pleading guilty to one felony count of carrying a pistol without a license, and the judge then asked Gilbert a series of questions. Everything was some variant of "yes" or "no" until the judge asked Gilbert if he understood the maximum sentence. Arenas said "6-12 months," then corrected the maximum to 24 months, before the judge interrupted to say that even though prosecutors were asking for Arenas to serve no more than the low end of sentencing guidelines (six months max), a judge could still sentence him to the felony count's five-year maximum.
Prosecutors then read out their Proffer of Facts
Statement of Facts, which they would have presented to a jury had this gone to trial. There were a few striking parts, which I figured I might as well highlight, especially with all the various versions we've read thus far.
The argument: The argument between Gilbert and "the other player," whom prosecutors never identified by name, began on the airplane on the night of Dec. 19 and extended into the morning of Dec. 20. The other player suggested a fistfight, with Arenas saying no, "he was too old to fistfight." Arenas then said he would burn the other player's vehicle or shoot him in the face, prompting the other player to threaten to "shoot the [bleep]" out of Arenas and shoot him in the knee. Gilbert later said this was all done in jest.
What it means: Regardless of whether Gilbert said this was a joke, the idea of him presenting firearms to another player less than two days after both of them had threatened to shoot each other makes the joke sort of hard to laugh at. Gilbert threatening to shoot someone in the face was new to me, as was the other player threatening to "shoot the [bleep]" out of Arenas. Our original story only had Gilbert threatening to blow up his car; getting the gun threat involved doesn't help matters.
The guns: Prosecutors said Gilbert knowingly brought at least one weapon--a .500 magnum silver Smith & Wesson revolver--in a backpack on the morning of Dec. 21, carrying the backpack in front of him with the shoulder straps on his shoulders. They didn't explain when or how Arenas's other three weapons got into the locker room.
What it means: In the early days of this story, The Post and others reported that "A person close to Arenas said that he brought the guns to Verizon Center to keep them away from his children." If at least one of the guns was brought into the arena on Dec. 21, the day after the argument and nearly two weeks after Arenas's third child was born, it becomes impossible to accept that argument in any fashion. So not only was he goofing about the incident, "a person close to him" was fibbing about it.
UPDATE: Of course, I forgot that Gilbert explicitly mentioned this excuse several times, including in his public statement:
As I have said before, I had kept the four unloaded handguns in my house in Virginia, but then moved them over to my locker at the Verizon Center to keep them away from my young kids. I brought them without any ammunition into the District of Columbia, mistakenly believing that the recent change in the DC gun laws allowed a person to store unloaded guns in the District. On Monday, December 21st, I took the unloaded guns out in a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate....
The aftermath: Prosecutors said that after the incident, in which "the other player" seemed to display a silver semi-automatic of his own, Arenas's guns were put in a suitcase. Arenas then instructed a teammate to put the suitcase inside his car in the Verizon Center parking garage. The teammate--who didn't know what was in the suitcase--didn't know which car was Gilbert's, and left the suitcase in a secure area inside the garage. Management learned of the incident and met with Arenas, who admitted he had the weapons and said that "the other player" also had a firearm. Team security was then told to secure the guns and take them away, and Arenas led them to the suitcase in the parking garage.
What it means: I'm still not willing to accept any of the "thug" and "gangsta" and "villain" language people have tried to attach to Arenas this month, but this timeline makes it clear that people inside that building immediately knew this was an extremely serious matter. That makes Arenas's subsequent tomfoolery even more disappointing. Furthermore, the fact that he would return the guns to Virginia, and presumably to Arenas's home, just completely shreds the fatherhood stuff.
Also: he gave guns in a suitcase to a teammate who couldn't even find his car? Huh?
Arenas's lawyer emphasized that some of the facts in this version of events were provided by witnesses other than Arenas, although he was accepting the account of his own actions provided by prosecutors.
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