Giddens defends no contest plea after bar fight

Updated: November 3, 2005, 4:16 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico wingman J.R. Giddens took issue with his portrayal by prosecutors and newspaper accounts of a May 19 bar fight in Kansas.

The junior transfer from Kansas spoke after New Mexico's practice Wednesday about his decision to plead no contest this week to misdemeanor battery.

"That's not who I am. People will think what they think," Giddens told The Albuquerque Tribune in a story published Thursday. "Hopefully, people will judge me by what I do from now on, and not something that happened in the past."

In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped a disorderly conduct charge. Giddens was placed on probation for a year and ordered to take a two-day anger management class.

He will serve his probation in New Mexico. Violation of terms could mean up to six months in prison and fines of up to $1,500.

"I've accepted my wrongdoing in this," Giddens said. "I'm past it, and I hope everybody else gets past it, too."

Giddens initially pleaded not guilty at his arraignment but chose to end the legal proceedings Monday. He said his decision was prompted in part by discussions with New Mexico coaches.

"The coaching staff thought it would be a smart thing to get it behind us, admit to what I've done wrong and get it behind us," Giddens said.

On Tuesday, Jeremiah Creswell, 24, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery in the case. He claimed he stabbed Giddens and three other men in self-defense.

Creswell was sentenced to a year of probation in exchange for an agreement with prosecutors that no additional charges be filed.

Witnesses have said Creswell stabbed Giddens and four other people after a group of men attacked him outside the bar.

Giddens was hospitalized for treatment of a slashed artery in his leg, which resulted in 30 stitches. Creswell needed 12 staples to close a gash in his head.

Newspaper accounts of the bar fight differ on whether Giddens was instigator or victim.

Lobos coach Ritchie McKay said the story of Giddens as a victim has been overlooked.

"I am not exonerating him," McKay said. "He admitted his part in it. Let's judge him by who he is at UNM and what he does in our program and our community. He understands what values our program is interested in."

McKay said Giddens has been a mature addition to his team since transferring from Kansas.

But the coach also said he can't spend all day with his players.

"Sometimes young people don't always do what they are asked to do," McKay said, adding that he doesn't "anticipate any trouble whatsoever" with Giddens.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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