Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cavs star faces jail time on weapons counts

The fragile psyche of Delonte West could use a break, but if the frustrations with life that drove the Cavaliers guard to ride around the Metro D.C. area armed like a mercenary weighed on him, how must West feel with the weight of the legal system on his tattooed shoulders?

His brush with justice isn’t going to go unnoticed. It looks as if he's at risk of ending up with the same fate that befell NFL star Plaxico Burress, meaning West could spend time behind iron bars.

Time in jail is a possibility after a grand jury in Prince George’s County (Md.) indicted West on an assortment of weapons charges Tuesday, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

The six charges stemmed from a traffic stop Sept. 17. Driving a motorcycle, West was arrested on gun charges then and for reckless driving. He was carrying three loaded guns, a loaded Remington 870 shotgun in a guitar case and a knife -- the kind of shock-and-awe firepower that would worry any cop who pulled a driver over for a traffic violation.

The charges carry serious jail time, as long as three years in prison for each of the gun charges. Unlike in the Burress case, the charges don’t guarantee jail time. West could end up with probation and fines, outcomes that were mentioned after his arrest.

But what is of more concern than jail time is how West, 24, will hold up under the emotional stress that comes with fighting the law. His trial is set for Nov. 20.

It’s hard to forecast how a judge might view West’s situation. The legal system can dispense justice unevenly at times, especially when it sets its sights on a celebrity.

In West’s case, all the issues aren’t known. To date, nobody has reported what his plans were for those loaded guns.

Someone with a comic’s bent might argue that West was going hunting. Fair enough, maybe. A cynic, though, might counter: Hunting for what -- human?

A person with more insights into the emotional state of a troubled man might raise the most unthinkable question of them all: Was West’s prey himself?

Nobody can find much solace in investigating any of these scenarios. West’s situation, certainly, isn’t one that cops and courts can take lightly. The public must also ask whether jail is the right place to help a man whose life has cried out for help.

On first blush, time in jail isn’t the punishment that fits Delonte West’s crime.


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