A lawyer for Peter Warrick, Florida State's suspended star receiver, hopes to get a felony charge against his client resolved quickly so he can again play with the top-ranked Seminoles.
Warrick, 22, teammate Laveranues Coles, 21, and 19-year-old Dillard's department store clerk Rachel Myrtil were charged with grand theft Thursday. The clerk was accused of selling the two players $412.38 worth of clothing for only $21.40.
A fourth person, Shedrick Jermaine Rhodes, 23, who is not a player, was arrested on a lesser charge of petty theft for allegedly buying $82 worth of clothing from Myrtil for $10.70. That closes the case and no further arrests are expected, police spokesman Scott Hunt said Friday.
Defense lawyer John Kenny said Friday it was standard procedure to have cases delayed because that normally works in a defendant's favor, but Warrick's situation is different.
"In this case, Peter cannot afford to take too long," Kenny said. "He has more interest in saying, `Let's get it done.' "
Warrick was a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, but his arrest might have dashed those hopes.
His return, however, would help Florida State's push for a second national championship and his chances to impress NFL teams. Although expected to be a first-round choice last year, Warrick passed up the NFL draft and returned for his senior season, seeking redemption for a poor performance and loss to Tennessee in the national championship Fiesta Bowl.
Coles was removed from the team because he already was on probation for past legal and academic difficulties. Warrick was suspended indefinitely under a school policy that prohibits athletes charged with felonies from playing until the charges are resolved.
One way to do that would be to plead guilty or no contest. First offenders normally are placed on probation, assistant state attorney Warren Goodman said.
Another option would be to try and have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Rhodes, whom Kenny said he understands is Warrick's cousin, was charged with a misdemeanor because he allegedly took less than $300 worth of merchandise.
Neither Warrick nor Coles was alleged to have taken more than $300 in clothing individually, but each was charged with a felony because they made their purchases of $244.38 and $168 together, with Coles paying for each. Rhodes was with the other two but made his purchase separately, Hunt said.
Kenny said he had spoken with prosecutors but they discussed nothing of substance and he still had not seen the state's evidence.
Warrick is set for a first court appearance Monday, but Kenny said neither he nor his client would be there because he has filed a written notice of appearance. Normally, it then would be at least six weeks before a trial date.
"We all hope to resolve this before then, Kenny said.
So do many Florida State fans and officials who were stunned by the severity of the charges.
"The door certainly is open for Peter to return," athletic director Dave Hart said. In anticipation of that, Warrick will be allowed to practice with the team while suspended.
"Talent alone obviously does not make you immune to accountability," Hart said. "Sometimes this is learned in very tough circumstances."
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed