Williams' attorney seeking plea bargain

Updated: June 7, 2004, 8:47 PM ET
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A July 26 trial date has been set for Miami football recruit Willie Williams on a felony charge for setting off fire extinguishers at a hotel during a recruiting trip.

Meanwhile, Williams' attorney is still seeking a plea bargain that would lower the charges against the highly touted prospect to a misdemeanor.

Williams, a linebacker from Miami Carol City High, signed with the Hurricanes in February. Attorney Paul Lazarus said Monday he is hopeful Williams will be playing for Miami this fall.

The school stopped processing Williams' admissions application when his legal history became public. He had been arrested 11 times since 1999 and was sentenced to 18 months probation in 2002 after pleading no contest to burglary charges.

After his recruiting visit to Florida at the end of January, Williams was charged with setting off three fire extinguishers at the University of Florida Hilton.

He also was charged with a misdemeanor for hugging a woman against her will on the same visit and is due back in Gainesville on June 15 for a case management conference on that charge.

Following the Gainesville charges, Williams was arrested in Broward County for violating his probation. Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan of Fort Lauderdale said he will not rule on the alleged probation violation until Williams' legal status is cleared in Gainesville.

Lazarus, after accompanying Williams to court on Monday, said he had been talking with the State Attorney's office in an attempt to reach a plea agreement.

"The negotiations have not been settled," Lazarus said. "We're hopeful that with good resolutions here and in Broward County, he can be on the practice field come August."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press