San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three felony counts of possession of an illegal assault weapon.
According to NBABayArea.com, Smith entered the plea Tuesday afternoon in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose.
“Aldon’s very interested in answering to these charges and you have to understand that this is a process and today’s court appearance was the first step in that process,” said Josh Bentley, Smith’s defense attorney.
The court granted a waiver that could delay Smith’s next appearance in court to work around his schedule. He is due back in court Jan. 15 for a hearing to combine the weapons charges with the DUI Smith was arrested for in September.
“It’s not uncommon to work around someone’s schedule and it’s not uncommon to have a delay like this at the beginning of a case because, remember, no discovery’s been provided,” said Santa Clara County deputy district attorney Brian Buckelew.
The charges stem from three guns that were recovered in 2012 by police from Smith’s home outside of San Jose. Technicians determined the guns were illegal assault weapons under California law and were among five unregistered rifles found in Smith’s bedroom.
Prosecutors allege Smith bought the three rifles on two separate occasions while in Arizona in 2011. The weapons are legal in Arizona, but possession of them is a felony offense in California. According to prosecutors, two of the guns were purchased on Dec. 10, 2011, in Phoenix, one day before the 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals in suburban Glendale.
Prosecutors say Smith fired a .45-caliber handgun into the air during a party the night of June 29, 2012, at his home, a party that stretched into the early morning hours of June 30. He was attempting to disperse a large crowd, prospectors say.
Two people were later shot and wounded at the party while Smith suffered minor injuries when he was allegedly stabbed. Reputed gang member Steven Raymond Barba has since been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the stabbing.
The two shooting victims have filed civil suits in Santa Clara County against Smith and Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, a former 49er who was with Smith at the 2012 party.