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Iverson Cleared of Most Charges

July 30, 2002|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Allen Iverson was cleared of all criminal charges except one misdemeanor count at a hearing Monday to see if the Philadelphia 76er guard should stand trial for storming into his cousin's apartment with a gun and threatening two men while looking for his wife.

A charge of making terrorist threats was the only count left standing by Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon after a six-hour preliminary hearing. The prosecution's case was damaged by conflicting testimony from witnesses.

Iverson, 27, among the NBA's most talented and popular players, was arrested earlier this month on 14 felony and misdemeanor charges, including felony weapons, trespass and conspiracy offenses. They carried a maximum sentence of 70 years.

Cathie Abookire, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia district attorney's office, disagreed with the judge's ruling.

"The evidence was more than ample to hold the case for trial," she said.

Abookire said a judge will schedule a preliminary hearing Thursday on the remaining charge.

In a statement, the 76ers said, "We continue to support Allen and we look forward to the resolution of the remaining issue in this matter so that both Allen and the 76ers can return their full focus where it properly belongs: on the basketball court."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday August 01, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 10 inches; 381 words Type of Material: Correction
Pro basketball--A Tuesday Sports story on the criminal case of Philadelphia 76er guard Allen Iverson misstated the race of writer Larry Platt. He is white.
*

DeLeon's ruling followed testimony from Iverson's two accusers--Charles Jones, 21, and Hakim Carey, 17--and his cousin, Shawn Bowman, 21. Carey said he did not see a handgun tucked in Iverson's waistband, contradicting statements he gave police. Carey said Jones told him to tell authorities he had seen a gun.

Bowman testified that two days after the July 3 incident, Jones told him there was no gun.

"I reached a decision that it was not probable that [Iverson] had a gun," DeLeon said. "It sounds like you had a relative looking for a relative at the house of a relative."

With that, the judge perhaps put in perspective a case that many believed has received undue attention from the media and law enforcement because of Iverson's celebrity.

In the days leading up to Monday's hearing, some veterans of the criminal justice system questioned whether Iverson's case would have ever gotten to court if not for the media putting intense pressure on authorities handling the investigation.

"When all eyes are on a case, the prosecution goes to great lengths to make sure there's not a perception that they're being more fair to Iverson than to the guy on the street," defense attorney Brian McMonagle told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"But in so doing, you end up being unfair to him.... There was more manpower used in this case than I've seen in most homicide cases."

While many similar cases are handled by a single detective, the investigation into Iverson's case at one point involved five detectives. Frank Keel, a spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, told a sports radio show he was concerned some detectives may have been "overzealous about nailing Allen Iverson."

Questions also have been raised about the way the largely white media has handled a case involving a famous black athlete with a criminal past.

Iverson was arrested and convicted in a 1993 bowling-alley brawl in Virginia, and he was arrested in 1997 after he was found to be in possession of a handgun and a small amount of marijuana in a car he owned.

Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times last week, columnist Michael Eric Dyson said white writers don't like Iverson because of his cornrows, tattoos, and the fact he supposedly is the "anti-Jordan."

Iverson, Dyson wrote, is the victim of "unfair hype" and quoted black writer Larry Platt as saying Iverson is unfairly criticized by the mainstream media because he is his own man and "unwilling to sign on to [white society's] assimilation script."

Iverson, the NBA's most valuable player in the 2000-01 season and a three-time league scoring champion, was accused of throwing his wife, Tawanna, out of their home and later barging into Bowman's West Philadelphia apartment in the early hours of July 3.

Under questioning Monday by Iverson attorney Richard Sprague, Bowman testified that Iverson paid rent at the apartment and had permission to enter at any time. Therefore, DeLeon ruled, Iverson was not trespassing when he entered the apartment with his uncle, Gregory Iverson, 39.

All but the misdemeanor charge was dismissed against Gregory Iverson as well.

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