Plaxico Burress pleads guilty in deal

August 20, 2009 2:48:16 PM PDT
Former New York Giant Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty Thursday morning in a deal with prosecutors that will send him to prison for two years. Burress pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He will also be subject to two years post-prison supervision.

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The deal, hammered out between prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and Burress' lawyer, was the result of negotiations ongoing since his arrest last November.

Burress was indicted on gun possession charges for accidentally shooting himself in the thigh with an unlicensed weapon in a nightclub.

"After an agonizing period of discussion, Plaxico decided that he wanted to do this, put this behind him as quickly as possible," attorney Ben Brafman said. "This is a perfect example, in many ways, of how bad judgment sometimes has very terrible consequences."

Brafman says Burress had no legal defense for the crime, and that the facts of the case were never in dispute. He says Burress was eager to put the incident behind him because he already has one child and his wife is expecting.

During negotiations, Burress' attorney was attempting to limit his client's prison time to a year behind bars. But the Manhattan District Attorney's office insisted on two years. Brafman believes his client was treated differently than the average person would have been for the same crime.

"If Plaxico Burress were not a high-profile individual, it would never have been a case," he said. "If he were John Doe, he would've walked out of that club. Nobody at the hospital reported the gunshot wound."

If Burress had been convicted of all charges, he could have faced 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison. City leaders were quick to call for a harsh punishment, which Brafman says hurt his client.

"It was not helpful to have the mayor go on record early on this case, demanding a maximum prison sentence," he said. "That would not have happened if he were not a high-profile individual.

Burress is free for now, but is due back in court next month, when he will likely begin serving his sentence.

Hours after his court appearance, the NFL announced commissioner Roger Goodell had suspended Burress and said he is ineligible to sign with any team until he completes his jail term. Goodell, who met with Burress and his representatives last week, said Burress will be reinstated upon completion of his sentence.