Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
The Santa Clara County District Attorney has charged 49ers All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith with three felony weapons assault charges, prosecutors announced on Wednesday. Tony Kovaleski reports.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney has charged 49ers All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith with three felony weapons assault charges, prosecutors announced on Wednesday. The charges stem fom a June 2012 house party hosted by the 24-year-old Smith where he was stabbed and two others were shot, and deputies later found a cache of assault rifles, magazines and ammunition.
NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit was the first to report the charges.
Smith is currently on “indefinite leave” from the 49ers after San Jose police arrested him at 7 a.m. on Sept. 20 on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in a separate matter. He is expected to appear in court on Nov. 4 to answer those misdemeanor DUI charges, which allege is blood alcohol content was at least .15 - twice the legal limit.
Prosecutors on Wednesday said Smith is expected to "self-surrender" later this month on charges that he had illegal weapons, which, according to documents, were bought in Arizona in 2011 -- days before the 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals in December of that year. Most types of assault weapons cannot be legally bought in Arizona by California residents or possessed in California at all, according to District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
Ammunition, magazines, and five rifles including -- an Armalite AR10-T .308 caliber rifle, a Bushmaster ACR rifle chambered for 5.56mm NATO and a Bushmaster Carbon-15 .223 caliber -- were found in Smith's home by Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies following the June 29 party. Prosecutors said none of the weapons were registered with the California Department of Justice.
“California’s prohibition of these powerful weapons is not about hunting or target practice," Rosen said in a statement. "It is about interrupting the long history of death, carnage and grief assault weapons have inflicted on California communities.”
At his regular Wednesday 49ers' news conference, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn't have further comment past the team's formal statement, which read, in part: The "49ers organization is aware of recent developments with Aldon" and the team realizes "the serious nature of the situation." Team officials said they would "continue to monitor it closely" but because it is a legal matter, they wouldn't be speaking about it.
When asked if Harbaugh picked up Smith from jail, the coach hesitated, and declined to answer.
It is unclear why it took more than a year for deputies to turn the case over to prosecutors in July following last summer's party at Smith's rented 8,000-square-foot-house in the foothills near San Jose.
That's where several gang members became confrontational with other guests and an unknown person fired a handgun into Smith’s garage. Smith fired his own .45 handgun twice from his balcony to break up the crowd, prosecutors said, and a friend of Smith's later fired the same .45 handgun several times in the air. An unknown party guest then shot and injured two partygoers - who have since filed suit against Smith -- and Smith himself was later stabbed.
During the fighting, prosecutors said another unknown person entered Smith’s bedroom, took an assault weapon, and carried it around the party.
If convicted on the weapons charges, Smith faces a sentence that could range from probation to a little more than four years in jail.
The weapons charges come about two weeks after his DUI arrest, and about a month after the NBC Bay Investigative Unit first broke details of two civil lawsuits against Smith, stemming from the party that was widely advertised on the Internet and cost guests a $10 cover charge to enter.
The lawsuit never claims Smith was the shooter but the plaintiffs do want to hold the football player responsible because the injured guests were shot at his home. The suit accuses Smith of firing weapons and owning illegal firearms.
Smith's civil attorney, Matthew Conant, is not representing Smith criminally. At this point it's unclear who is representing Smith as he faces criminal charges.
Smith himself is in a rehabilitation facility and not reachable for comment, but he did speak on Sept. 22 in regards to his earlier DUI arrest in San Jose.
Following the 49ers' 27-7 loss to the Colts, Smith addressed the media: "I will do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again. I also want to let everyone know that I'm sorry."
NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez and David Paredes contributed to this report.