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Gilbert Arenas's day in court


(By Mark Gail - TWP)


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.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 15, 2010; 5:17 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Comments

Word from the "Big House" is that the Warden wanted to make up for the tough loss during the recent "Longest Yard" football game by staging another prison-vs-prison ball game -- but this time, on the hard courts.

To improve his chances, the Warden went to the prosecutors to see if they could bring in a few ringers -- and soon after, Gilbert the Wiz Kid was charged wih felony gun possession.

All was well and good -- and everyone laughed and laughed, because they all knew it was just a joke.

That is, until deviant lifer Chester the Molester decided he wanted to make GA his bunk buddy -- while GA took a dump in Chester's shoes.

Posted by: Vic1 | January 15, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Give me $111 mil and I'm mother thressa, kissing babies and the whole 9. It's amazing how we've blown up professional atheletes heads to think they are above the law. The fact that this is even happening shows Gil isn't responsible enough to own a gun. Any gun owner can tell you the law of the state or states they live in to a T. This dude is actually a father! Come on man grow the F up. You were one of the most fun players to watch before the surgeries.

Posted by: AnthonyMix | January 15, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

As the great rapper Tupac once said....living the Thuglife baaaaaybeee!

Posted by: MrWillie | January 15, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Also: he gave guns in a suitcase to a teammate who couldn't even find his car? Huh?
By Dan Steinberg | January 15, 2010; 5:17 PM ET

That's because everyone's Mercedes looks the same. He couldn't find the one that had the license plate "0 Caliber".

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | January 15, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Arenas will serve time for this. From the lies about getting the guns out of his house because of his newborn to tempting Crittenton with his "pick one" note. This is no joke. Gil took it WAYYYY to far.

Posted by: RomulusBeatRemus | January 15, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I believe that a jail cell is not the right place for Arenas - he appears to be mentally ill. Specifically, he shows symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, possibly mixed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. The proper outcome is a suspended sentence contingent on a psychiatric evaluation and his continuing a course of treatment.

For details, see http://chuckdcoleman.blogspot.com/2010/01/does-gilbert-arenas-have-borderline.html .

Posted by: cnhrcoleman4 | January 16, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

"So not only was he goofing about the incident, "a person close to him" was fibbing about it."

Dan, "fibbing"? I'd say more like lying. It was a deliberate intent to mis-lead and to plant a story in the press that would at least attempt to justify Gilbert's actions in bringing firearms into the locker room.

Sadly, more than a few media folks bit on that hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: hawk1009 | January 16, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"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.

By Dan Steinberg | January 15, 2010; 5:17 PM ET

The above comments are so completely nonsensical I'm really not sure where to even begin. On what planet is is "impossible to accept the argument in any way" that Gilbert took about a week after his child was brought home from the hospital to get his guns out of his home for the safety of his children? What exactly is so "impossible to accept" about this? Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

The anti-gun, anti-2nd Amendment, loony crowd don't understand why someone would ever own guns in their home in the first place, so they attack Arenas for not getting his guns out of the home the moment his first child was born. What these simpletons do not seem to comprehend is that Arenas realized after his 3rd child was born that his OTHER kids are getting OLDER. Old enough where they could possibly get their hands on his guns and he didn't want to take that chance.

WHAT EXACTLY ABOUT THIS IS SO HARD FOR THE MEDIA ELITES TO UNDERSTAND??????????

Posted by: Barno1 | January 16, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Probably the most disgusting aspect of this entire episode, is the complete and utter lack of honesty on the part of media elites, the NBA, and the Wizards, about what this is all about: the anti gun crowd using Arenas to further their agenda.

Why people can't just be honest about their motives is beyond me.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 16, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Why do comments which disagree with the author get "held for review by the bog owner"? Sounds a little censorshipy. In case my post does not get posted because Dan decides to censor it, my point was similar to Barno's above, just without all the 2nd amendment pushing, media elite bashing Palin-ism. Basically, the "impossible to accept" line is impossible to ignore, because it's so darn silly. There are a million versions as to how this could still be logical. As Barno said (and as I said in my censored piece), it wasn't the baby who was the concern, but rather the other kids getting older. Furthermore, how can anything that someone says is true which you have no evidence on other than conjecture be "impossible to accept." I find it impossible to accept that your editor didn't take you to task for that.

Posted by: Urnesto | January 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Dan--- Please don't censor. Still waiting on my critique to post. (There were no bad words or anything). Plus it's not like you have all that many commments on here anyways. I mean, you're willing to post someone who uses all caps to talk about "MEDIA ELITES" but you can't post my cool, charming commentary? Come on.

Posted by: Urnesto | January 16, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

@barno1

The fact that Arenas brought in one of his guns on December 21st, the morning of the incident, suggests to me that he brought in that specific gun for this prank.

It blows a hole in the argument that he already had the guns in his locker and just pulled them out for this prank.

Posted by: Joran | January 16, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@Urnesto: I'm not sure what you're talking about with censorship or not posting critiques. I don't have anything to do with comments. As long as they escape the profanity filters, everything gets posted immediately. I'd hope past experience shows that I welcome any and all criticism. And thanks for the cheap shot about the number of my comments, but I can assure you comments are not proportionate to traffic.

As for what you and Barno are saying, let's consider the timeline. And Barno, I love you, but nothing I have ever posted in this item or anywhere else has anything to do with legal gun ownership or possession. That's all fine by me. No worries at all on that score. If you can explain how my criticism of Gilbert's behavior here has anything to do with the Second Amendment or media elites, I'd be all ears.

So anyhow:

1) Dec 9, Gilbert's third child is born

2) Dec 19-20, Gilbert and Crittenton get in an argument in which both men threaten to shoot the other.

3) Dec 21, Gilbert brings at least one gun in a backpack to Verizon Center and, according to prosecutors, "shortly thereafter" opens the backpack and places four weapons in front of Crittenton's locker as part of a joke

4) After the joke goes wrong, Gilbert gives the guns to a teammate and tells him to put them BACK IN HIS CAR. They never make it into his car (or his locker), but a team employee later takes them BACK TO VIRGINIA. There is no suggestion by prosecutors that the .500 magnum ever spent one second in Gilbert's locker.

5) Jan. 4: Gilbert releases a statement saying "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."

If you believe all these facts--and Gilbert's plea was an acceptance of these facts--and you still believe that Gilbert was bringing the guns to Verizon Center to keep them away from his kids, you subscribe to a different school of logic than I do.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | January 16, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Really quick response to Dan:
- First off, really cool of you to respond
- Second, my initial comment never did post, but I totally believe that you had nothing to do with it
- That post was clean and normal, so I'm not sure why it didn't pass muster (and it made my point better than I have since)
- Didn't mean to lay a cheap shot - I was just trying to argue my point that my comment should have posted; I'm well aware that you're well read (but if # of comments is not proportional to traffic, that's pretty surprising to me)
- I guess we do have different logic rules; I got all that stuff you wrote, but I still don't think it would meet a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard - much less an "impossible to believe" standard
- I think he both wanted them out of the house because of his kids and wanted to mess with Critt, and saw a way to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak)
- I think procrastinating ten days after a birth to do something inspired by the birth is fairly plausible and normal (and it's not like Gil was super responsible anyways)
- I get that there is some confusion about the other guns and how they got there; don't know how that plays
- I just thought the "impossible to accept" line was a bit much because I know that WP columnists never, ever, ever use hyperbole, so I was confused (that was a cheap shot)

Posted by: Urnesto | January 16, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

WHAT EXACTLY ABOUT THIS IS SO HARD FOR THE MEDIA ELITES TO UNDERSTAND??????????

Posted by: Barno1 | January 16, 2010 2:16 PM

Spoken like a true Stan. I think Cooley is the the only player in this town you won't defend and I'm not even sure about that. He brought the guns in the locker room and placed them on the chair of a teammate with a note stating "choose one" the day after he and the teammate had a verbal altercation that included threats about shooting each other.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | January 16, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

This is what happens when you try to lie to cover up things.

I see the Wizards having some blame in this as well. Three days to notify police? They took the guns to Gilberts house? That appears to be a crime to me.

I truly think that as part of the deal to charge him only once, and not four times, was that they mention only one gun being in the backpack. He's not being charged with four counts, one is enough. The other three guns in the backpack didn't have to be mentioned. By not mentioning them explicitly, it allows Gil to try and maintain that initial line of BS.

Of course it's crap and doesn't really matter, just shoots more holes in his initial crappy and flippant explanations of this mess.

Posted by: Doggpound703 | January 17, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

And I feel Gil came up with that story once Wizard management found out there were guns in the locker room.

Gil said he was going to try and cover for Javaris. (this is fact)

So he lied to Wiz management, said he already had them there...daughter...safety...blabla, but didn't tell them Javaris had a gun.

Wiz management accepted his line of crap, and appear, at least to me, to have supported the story he told. I still can't explain why they took the guns to his house in VA (breaking a law) and didn't report it to police for three days,

But Javaris told his friend "his" side. He hyped it to his friend, "Yeah, we had guns drawn on each other, blablabla" when in reality he was probably the laughingstock of the lockeroom. But is he going to admit that to a friend? No way, so he embelishes it. His friend then spills the story to the press, the press runs with the wrong story.

At this point Wiz management must have been just absolutely livid at the situation...I wonder when Gil 'came clean' with Wiz management about what really happened. It appears he only told the truth when he had to.

Posted by: Doggpound703 | January 17, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

yawn, gilberts punishment should be serving in the military and then we should ship him to afghanistan where he can really learn how to play with guns.

Posted by: BMACattack | January 18, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Steinz,

I wasn't really referring to you when I spoke of the media elites/anti-2nd Amendment crowd...sorry, I guess it did come across that way. Certainly though, without any question, John Feinstein and Michael Wilbon are can both be fairly described as media elites. The notoriously anti-2nd Amendment leftist Feinstein, who hasn't written a word about the Wizards since the Jordan years, came out of the woodwork to use Arenas to further his anti-gun agenda. Anyone can see that.

And Wilbon has tried to have it both ways on this issue, first calling on the Wizards to use this incident to void Arenas's contract, then--just 2 days later--writing about how the reaction to Arenas's prank has gone way too far. Wilbon has zero principles, he just puts his finger to the wind and tries to go with the public flow. He's an intellectual lightweight, and a hypocrite to boot.

As for Al Sharpton, he would never dare publicly take on a real thug, but he saw an easy target and opportunity to feign outrage over a non-thug in Arenas. Sharpton is a racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic jerk who has incited race riots in the past that led to innocent people's losing their lives, and the mere fact that David Stern took his call in the first place (not to mention acted on Sharpton's advice less than 24 hours later) shows that Stern is currently not fit to take a seat in an NBA commissioner's office.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 18, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

If you believe all these facts--and Gilbert's plea was an acceptance of these facts--and you still believe that Gilbert was bringing the guns to Verizon Center to keep them away from his kids, you subscribe to a different school of logic than I do.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | January 16, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

As for this, I must say normally you and I do subscribe to similar schools of logic...but whatever the reason may be, in this instance we apparently do not. I look at your timeline and Arenas's version vs what went down in court and can honestly say I do not see any striking differences. Just because "locker" was not mentioned in court, doesn't mean it wasn't his intention to put them in his locker, nor does it mean they weren't in his locker for some period of time. Nor do I think this is relevant either way.

But I do think your use of "impossible to accept" Arena's story that he wanted the guns out of his home for his kids' sake was inappropriate, to say the least.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 18, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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