San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of possessing an illegal assault weapon.
Dressed in a suit, gingham shirt and white suede shoes, Smith appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose Tuesday afternoon accompanied by defense attorney Josh Bentley and his parents.
“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,” Bentley said.
The judge approved a waiver that could delay Smith’s next court date in order to work around his schedule. The All-Pro linebacker is due back in court Jan. 15 for a hearing that will combine weapons charges with Smith’s DUI case from 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.
Technicians determined that three guns recovered from Smith's home outside of San Jose in 2012 were illegal assault weapons under California law, according to prosecutors, who said the weapons, which were among five unregistered rifles located in Smith's bedroom, included an Armalite AR-10-T and two Bushmaster assault weapons.
Prosecutors have said that Smith purchased the three rifles on two occasions in 2011 while in Arizona. Two were bought in Phoenix on Dec. 10 of that year, a day prior to the 49ers' game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The three rifles are legal in Arizona, but it is a felony to possess one in California. Deputies searched Smith's expansive home, located in an unincorporated area in the hills east of San Jose, following a raucous nighttime party Smith hosted at the home on June 29, 2012, that stretched into the early morning hours of June 30, 2012.
According to prosecutors, Smith fired a .45-caliber handgun into the air during the party in an attempt to disperse a large crowd.
Later, one or more partygoers shot and wounded two people at the party and Smith suffered minor injuries when he was allegedly stabbed by Steven Raymond Barba, a reputed gang member who has since been charged by the district attorney's office with assault with a deadly weapon.
The two shooting victims have filed civil suits in San Jose against Smith and his former 49ers teammate Delanie Walker, who was with Smith at the 2012 party.
Bay City News contributed to this report.