Holdsclaw avoids jail time after pleading guilty in shooting incident

June 15, 2013 - 2:38am

Former WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Chamique Holdsclaw will serve no further jail time after pleading guilty Friday to multiple charges arising from a Nov. 1, 2012 attack on the Tulsa Shock’s Jennifer Lacy, who described herself to police responding to the incident as Holdsclaw’s “ex-girlfriend.”

Holdsclaw, who led the Tennessee Lady Vols to three national championships, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA draft. She spent 12 seasons in the WNBA, playing at various times for the Washington Mystics, the Los Angeles Sparks, the San Antonio Silver Stars and, in 2009, for the Atlanta Dream, where Lacy, a member of the Dream in 2008 and 2009, was her teammate.

According to the police report and documents filed with the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta by the county’s district attorney, on the date in question, Holdsclaw followed Lacy from a workout session at an Atlanta church gym. After Lacy pulled into a parking area near a friend’s apartment, Holdsclaw smashed out the driver’s, the rear passenger and the rear windows of Lacy’s Range Rover with a baseball bat before pulling out a nine-millimeter handgun and firing a shot into the vehicle where Lacy was still sitting in the driver’s seat, then fleeing the scene. Neither Lacy nor anyone else was injured, but police were summoned by one of Lacy’s friends and a warrant was issued for Holdsclaw’s arrest.

Holdsclaw spent a night and most of the following day in jail in November after surrendering herself to authorities in response to the arrest warrant. She was subsequently released on $100,000 bond, subject to ankle-bracelet monitoring and a “keep-away” order, while her attorneys attempted to work out a disposition with prosecutors.

The case remained dormant until late February when, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Holdsclaw with multiple felonies, including two counts of aggravated assault, criminal damage in the first degree, two counts of criminal damage in the second degree and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Holdsclaw faced prison terms of from one to 20 years on each of the two aggravated assault charges, and could have faced a minimum of three years in jail had the assault been characterized as an incident of domestic violence.

However, Holdsclaw, who pleaded not guilty to all counts at a pretrial hearing on March 14, will serve no further jail time after changing her plea on all counts to guilty pursuant to a plea deal reached with the district attorney. Instead, Holdsclaw will serve three years probation and pay a fine of $3,000.

As conditions of her probation, Holdsclaw, who has become an advocate for mental health care after disclosing her own long-term battle with depression, a battle that seriously disrupted her playing career and led to attempts at suicide, must “avoid violent contact with the victim, complete anger management treatment, and perform 120 hours of community service speaking with youth about depression, overcoming adversity and the consequences of one’s actions,” the Journal-Constitution reported District Attorney Paul Howard as stating. Holdsclaw must also relinquish all firearms.

It is unclear whether Holdsclaw’s guilty pleas were entered pursuant to Georgia’s First-Offender Act (O.C.G.A. Section 42-8-60), which allows the court to defer entering a conviction while a defendant who has not previously been convicted of a felony serves probation. If the prosecutor certifies that the offender has successfully completed probation, the proceedings are dismissed and the defendant will have no conviction on his or her criminal record. If, on the other hand, the defendant violates the terms of probation, the court can enter the conviction and resentence the offender to any term up to the maximum sentence imposed by law for the offenses to which he or she has pleaded guilty.

First-offender dispositions are not often employed in cases involving crimes of violence. However, given the probationary sentence, Holdsclaw could have asked the court for first-offender treatment, as the charges to which she pleaded guilty are not ones for which first-offender status is specifically prohibited under Georgia law, and at the time of Holdsclaw’s arrest, a spokesperson for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office informed Full Court that she had no prior criminal record. The transcript of the proceedings was unavailable at the time this article was published, and neither Holdsclaw or her attorney Ed Garland, nor the district attorney, could be reached for comment. However, the Associated Press reported Garland as stating his client “felt that to honestly accept what her actions were was best for everyone concerned.”