Burress indicted by grand jury

August 3, 2009 2:34:57 PM PDT
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced Monday that Plaxico Burress has been indicted by a New York grand jury. The charge is two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and one count of reckless endangerment.

"The grand jury applied the law to the facts of this case," Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said. He said the accidental shooting at the Latin Quarter nightclub on Nov. 29 was treated "like any similar case against any other defendant."

Burress' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the indictment, which came after Burress testified before the grand jury and expressed remorse.

"When you have the mayor and the district attorney both publicly demanding a maximum prison sentence, it was perhaps too much to hope for the grand jury to conduct a sympathetic review of the unique facts of this sad case," Brafman said in a statement.

Burress' former teammate Antonio Pierce, who was with Burress in the club and drove him to the hospital, was not indicted.

The district attorney says that each weapons charge carries a mandatory minimum of 3 1/2 years and a max of 15. The reckless endangerment charge carries a maximum of one year. He says that the facts of the case would dictate that the sentences be imposed concurrently and not consecutively.

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No date has been set for an arraignment. That date is set by the court.

VOTE: Should Plaxico Burress go to prison if convicted?

The grand jury heard from 22 witnesses and examined 16 exhibits. Medical personnel were not indicted because their involvement, Morgenthau said, amounted to "a screw-up not a cover-up."

He said that when the shot was fired, it came within inches of a club security agent.

Burress and Pierce were at a Manhattan nightclub last November when the wide receiver shot himself in the thigh. Authorities say Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and took the gun to Burress' home in Totowa, N.J. Burress did not have a permit for the gun.

Pierce, who also testified before the grand jury last week, was practicing with the Giants in Albany when he learned of the panel's decision.

Giants President John Mara said the team was pleased that the linebacker was not indicted.

"We said last week we felt strongly that Antonio's actions did not warrant criminal charges, and obviously the grand jury, having heard all of the testimony, felt the same way," he said.

Pierce's lawyer, Michael Bachner, said, "By appearing before the grand jury for almost three hours and answering the grand jury's very direct and very considered questions, it was clear to us that they understood that Mr. Pierce acted as any citizen under extraordinary circumstances would have acted."

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, was released by the Giants in April and he has not signed with another team.