Plaxico: "I Am Truly Remorseful"

Wide receiver testifies, Antonio Pierce faces prosecutoin

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009  |  Updated 3:45 PM EDT
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Plaxico: "I Am Truly Remorseful"

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Plaxico Burress showed up in court today to tell a grand jury his side of what happened on the fateful November night that ended with him shot through the leg by a bullet from his own gun.

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Plaxico Burress showed up in court today to tell a grand jury his side of what happened on the fateful November night that ended with him shot through the leg by a bullet from his own gun.

"I was truthful ... I was honest," Burress said of his testimony. "I am truly remorseful for what I have done and for what happened and what I did. I just want to thank everybody -- family, friends and fans -- for their support."

It's unusual for someone accused of a crime to testify before a grand jury deciding whether or not to indict them, but it's pretty clear that Burress' defense has reached the football equivalent of a hail mary pass.

Burress' lawyer assured reporters his client answers all the grand jury's questions truthfully and asked for compassion. Even though it's uncommon for the suspect in a crime to testify, lawyer Ben Brafman says it was Plax's idea to take the stand.

"He's not just an athlete, not just a number," Brafman said. "He has suffered enough."

Some have expected Burress to get preferential treatment because of his celebrity status, but his lawyer feels the opposite. Bail was set at $10,000 when he turned himself in; then the mayor had a press conference and it got upped to $250,000, Brafman said.

Burress waives his right to avoid self-incrimination by appearing before the grand jury, and had to answer that it was his gun, unlicensed in New York for which he had an expired Florida permit and that said gun was responsible for shooting him in the leg. Those are the facts of the case, and any other testimony would open the door to perjury charges that would only dig a deeper hole for Burress. The hail mary part comes in because Burress, per his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, is also going to try and convince the grand jury that he doesn't deserve to be indicted

He's banking on some mercy because he didn't intend to commit a crime, even though walking out the door with the gun was a crime in and of itself. Grand juries aren't tasked with empathizing with accused criminals, however, they're tasked with assessing the prosecution's case and deciding whether or not to issue an indictment for a trial. As you can see above, there's not much wiggle room for Burress on that front.

Nor is there much for his former teammate Antonio Pierce. The linebacker who drove Burress to the hospital and then drove Burress' gun to his home in New Jersey is also facing an indictment for gun charges stemming from the incident. He's facing the same exact gun charges that Burress is facing, in fact, and that's not making the Giants very happy.  

Team owner John Mara slammed Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, calling any action against Pierce "unwarranted" because there wasn't any criminal intent to his actions. That's true, the intent was helping Burress avoid getting into trouble, but it doesn't matter any more for Pierce than it does for Burress. The crime isn't what either man intended to do with the gun, but the simple fact that they were in posession of the gun.

It's funny to hear Mara take that point of view since the Giants were so quick to punish Burress for running afoul of the same law. Obviously, there were previous circumstances at play with Plax, but if intent is all that matters to Mara than Burress didn't do anything wrong either and, it follows, shouldn't have been suspended while Pierce was allowed to keep playing last season.

Just when it looked like this case hand winded its way to a conclusion, new branches are sprouting every where you look. Is anyone ready for some football? 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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