Ray Rice entered court on Thursday with his wife Janay Palmer by his side where he pleaded not guilty to third degree aggravated assault.
The Baltimore Sun reports Rice rejected the plea deal that would’ve spared him jail time. His attorney Michael Diamondstein said, "First and foremost, he's very remorseful for the actions that happened that night. He loves Janay, and he wants to move forward. He thinks it's best for not only himself, but his family, his job."
The Ravens running back was indicted on an aggravated assault charge by an Atlantic City grand jury for knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in Revel casino. The altercation was caught on security cameras. Days after the indictment Palmer married Rice.
Rice, 27, will keep his options open by pleading not guilty. An Atlantic City criminal defense attorney not associated with the case said a pretrial program, reserved for first-time offenders, would be the NFL player’s best option. According to Joseph A. Levin, six months after a pretrial program he could move to have his record expunged.
"He would not have to admit guilt or culpability in any way," Levin said. And if Rice completes the program, "the case will fade away," he said.
Rice’s charge has been a PR blip for the Baltimore Ravens team, but both owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh have said he is still part of the team. Earlier this week Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, “We’ll deal with Ray when that time comes.”
Prosecutors offered Rice a plea deal that would place him on probation and he’d be required to complete anger management, which is a deal consistent with other cases per prosecutors. But Rice has refused the plea deal by pleading not guilty.
Rice’s attorney called the domestic violence at Revel casino “a momentary lapse of reason.”
Prosecutors would need to sign off on allowing Rice into the pretrial program. It was said that prosecutors believe they could win a conviction if Rice fought the charges.
A follow-up hearing was scheduled for May 29, but Diamondstein said he believes Rice will find out if he’s been accepted in the diversionary program before then.
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