Rolando McClain Guilty On All Charges, Free On Appeal
Thursday, a Decatur judge found NFL player Rolando McClain guilty on all charges in his municipal trial. His charges include assault, reckless endangerment, menacing, and unlawful discharge of a firearm.
Municipal Judge Billy Cook sentenced McClain to 45 days in jail for each charge, for a total of 180 days. He must also pay $2,000 in fines. Whether McClain will serve any jail time remains to be seen, however. He remains free while his lawyer appeals the case. Attorneys have asked for a jury trial, meaning this could move to Morgan County Circuit Court.
“There’s no evidence that Rolando McClain had a gun,” his attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said outside the courtroom.
All of McClain’s charges are misdemeanors and stem from an attack in November 2011 against Rishard Tapscott.
He got a surprise Thursday morning when co-defendant, Jaradious Willingham, pleaded guilty shortly before the start of the trial. He also agreed to testify in McClain’s trial.
Willingham pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. Judge Cook sentenced him to 90 days in jail. Willingham must also pay about $300 in fines.
Willingham did not testify, though, and the judge refused to allow cell phone video that surfaced a day earlier. The judge said the evidence that convinced him was the man who called 911 that night.
The man testified he was at home across the street November 30 when he saw and heard a gun fired, but didn’t know who did it and called 911.
The victim, Tapscott, testified Jaradious Willingham beat him up, and Tapscott then retreated to his car and got a box cutter. He said McClain then came up to him and fired a shot right by his ear.
The defense called several of McClain’s friends to the stand, who gave conflicting accounts of what happened.
Attorney Steinberg insisted the fight was between Willingham and Tapscott. Tapscott was the first one to pull out a weapon, the box cutter, and McClain was trying to prevent more violence, his attorney said.
“Did he encourage Willingham to beat up Tapscott?” WHNT News 19 asked Steinberg. “No, Willingham acted on his own and you could tell,” Steinberg replied.
Steinberg is based in Denver, Colorado and represents NFL players in various legal matters.
McClain played football for Decatur High School, then the University of Alabama and now the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders issued a statement regarding their troubled player on Thursday evening through a team spokesman.
“The Raiders are well aware of the proceedings in the Alabama courts today,” the statement read. “The team will continue to closely monitor the legal process, understanding that when appropriate the NFL will review the situation under its personal conduct policy.”
Attorney Carl Cole is representing Tapscott in a civil lawsuit against Willingham and McClain for unspecified damages related to the attack. Decatur prosecutors are representing Tapscott in this criminal matter.
“I’m just glad it’s over with, this portion’s over with,” Tapscott said after Thursday’s verdict.