NEW YORK (AP)—Former Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress(notes) was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a nightclub and later reaching a plea deal on weapons charges.
The former New York Giants star tearfully told his family goodbye as he surrendered to begin his prison stint for attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
Burress was indicted on two counts of weapon possession and one count of reckless endangerment and pleaded guilty Aug. 20. He had faced a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years on those charges if convicted at trial. He pleaded to the lesser charge and agreed to the two-year term.
With time off for good behavior, Burress likely will serve 20 months. He will be monitored an additional two years after he is freed from prison, which could come as early as the spring of 2011.
Former Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress(notes) carries his son, Elijah, as he arrives at Manhattan criminal court for his sentencing ,Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009, in New York. Burress was sentenced to two years in prison for possessing a gun at a night club.
The Giants released Burress in April, but the 32-year-old told ESPN he hopes to resume his NFL career when he completes his sentence.
Before the hearing began, Burress played with his preschool-age son, Elijah. Then he hugged and kissed his wife, child, father, grandmother and stepmother.
Burress was so soft-spoken during his apologetic courtroom address that onlookers could not understand him.
Defense lawyer Benjamin Brafton said, “This is a very real tragic case in many, many ways.” He called Burress “a fundamentally decent man.”
Did Burress shoot someone else? No.
Did Burress point the firearm at somebody? No.
Did Burress brandish the firearm in a threatening manner? Not that I'm aware of. He wasn't charged with that.
If Burress did those things, I could support prison time. In addition, as far as I know, he didn't in trouble at Michigan State during his time there, or in big trouble outside of back taxes while in the NFL. Is this guy such a threat to society that he needs to spend two years in prison? I don't think he is. I wouldn't go with him to the firing range, but it's not like he's Rae Carruth. Burress is less of a threat than violent offenders like the jerk in Marion Township who pointed his rifle at a girl and then shot her dog. Those people belong in prison. Thiefs and robbers belong in prison. Guys who beat up women belong in prison after receiving a beating of their own from family. Those are the people who are threats to society, not Burress.
I think it is gun grabber Michael Bloomberg and his DA team wanting to make an example out of a famous athlete from Virginia so he can campaign to the white yuppies on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for his re-election campaign.
Burress made three errors, and none of them should be a prison sentence. He violated NYC's gun laws for possession which any judge with a brain should find unconstitutional following the Heller precedent. He carried concealed in an area he's not allowed to do so. He was likely drinking around guns considering he was at a nightclub.
He was already punished severely for the third provision. He shot himself. I don't know from experience, but I'm sure that hurts. He took a ton of bad press for that.
For the others, he was ignorant of NYC's gun laws, or at least the severity of them.
The best thing for Burress would be to get probation, community service, and some gun safety classes. Prison should be reserved for real threats to society.