Vikings' Peterson to plead not guilty at arraignment today
By Brian MurphySt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrian Peterson is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in a Texas courtroom, where the exiled Vikings running back will plead not guilty to a felony child abuse charge, according to his legal d...
By Brian Murphy
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Adrian Peterson is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in a Texas courtroom, where the exiled Vikings running back will plead not guilty to a felony child abuse charge, according to his legal defense team.
His first appearance before Montgomery County District Judge Kelly Case initiates a pre-trial schedule court officials say would extend well into 2015 if Peterson insists on a trial, effectively scuttling his chances of re-joining the Vikings this season.
“If he’s asked to plea, it will be not guilty,” said Mary Flood, spokeswoman for Peterson’s Houston-based defense attorney, Rusty Hardin. “We would like a trial sooner than later, but I can’t imagine one concluding before the end of the season.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has been in contact with Peterson since the team banished its franchise player following his Sept. 12 indictment.
“Honestly, I want the best for Adrian, No. 1,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “But I have to coach the guys that are here and go forward. If things get resolved, and it’s a good thing, then more power to him. We’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
Zimmer was asked whether Peterson was working out to stay in shape in case he can rejoin the Vikings this season.
“I haven’t asked him about that. I’m assuming he’s probably in shape,” the coach said.
Peterson has been at his home outside Houston since the Vikings relegated him to a rarely used NFL roster exemption that allows the team to pay his $691,176 weekly salary until his case is resolved.
He is due in a Conroe, Texas, courtroom at 9 a.m. Wednesday. A half-dozen media organizations have applied for camera positions, including ABC News, Fox Sports, the Associated Press and one Dallas television station, according to court records.
Peterson’s appearance mostly is perfunctory; he will enter his plea. Case will review conditions of his $150,000 bond, of which Peterson posted 10 percent to be bailed out of jail Sept. 13 after he surrendered to law enforcement.
It is unclear whether Hardin and Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant have started plea bargaining. Neither returned messages this week seeking comment.
Case could schedule a trial date and more hearings to determine which evidence can be admitted at trial. Thirty felony cases are docketed ahead of Peterson in Montgomery County, and Case only has seven open dates this year to schedule jury trials.
Logistics diminish the likelihood Peterson will play for Minnesota again this season. The NFL regular season concludes Dec. 28.
He has a constitutional right to a speedy trial but there are mitigating circumstances. Docket priority is given to older cases and those with jailed defendants.
Grant has said similar cases typically take nine to 12 months to go to trial.
A grand jury accused Peterson of going too far while disciplining his 4-year-old son with a switch during a May visit to his offseason home outside Houston.
Peterson acknowledged striking his son like his father punished him growing up in central Texas but denied abusing him. He is preparing to defend his use of corporal punishment, which is allowed under Texas law.
“I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court,” Peterson said in a Sept. 15 statement.
Hardin said in a statement last month “it will be up to a judge and jury to decide this case, which is the way it should be.”
Peterson’s charge is the lowest-level felony offense in Texas. If convicted, he faces six months to two years in state prison or probation as a first-time offender.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service