Two-year starter will sit out '04 season

Updated: June 15, 2004, 6:31 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- A University of Southern California football player has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of exhibition of a replica firearm and was sentenced to 60 days of electronic monitoring and three years' probation.

A plea deal was reached Monday before jury selection in the trial of Winston Justice, a sophomore and two-year starter for the Trojans.

"I'm happy it's over. ... Now it's time to move on," Justice said.

Justice was arrested March 3 for allegedly pulling a pellet gun on a student during a Feb. 24 dispute in a parking structure near the USC campus.

Justice, 19, pleaded not guilty in April to three counts of exhibition of a replica firearm. At his May pretrial hearing, he rejected a plea offer from prosecutors that called for a 90-day jail sentence. The plea deal was reached after Justice's attorney, Larry Clough, twice met with Deputy City Attorney Melanie Chavira in Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Schnegg's chambers.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Justice can leave his parents' Long Beach home only for workouts, one-hour voluntary counseling sessions and scheduled meetings with an administrator from USC's Office of Student Affairs. He also was ordered to stay away from the area near the student housing complex where the incident occurred.

Justice was suspended for two semesters by USC's Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards after his arrest. He will sit out the 2004 season, but said he plans to return to USC next spring and resume playing for the Trojans in 2005.

Last July, Justice was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor count of solicitation of prostitution in Long Beach.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press