[Updated 1:03 p.m.]
MAYS LANDING, N. J. – Ray Rice entered a plea of not guilty Thursday morning on charges of aggravated assault. He also applied for a pre-trial intervention program that would allow Rice to avoid criminal prosecution and jail time.
A decision on whether Rice is approved for the pre-trial program is expected within the next few weeks. If Rice is denied entry into the program, his next scheduled court date is May 29.
Rice entered the courthouse holding hands with his wife, Janay Palmer. Rice was indicted for allegedly striking Palmer in February, who was Palmer’s fiancée at the time, after the coupled argued in an Atlantic City casino.
Asked what he thought would happen Thursday entering the courthouse, Rice smiled at reporters and said, “for you all to have a blessed day.” Rice left the courthouse without comment, but his attorney, Michael Diamondstein, said Rice regretted the February incident.
“He’s very remorseful for the actions that happened that night,” Diamondstein said. “He loves Janay and he wants to move forward.
“He’s done a tremendous amount for the Baltimore community, for children. This was a momentary lapse of reason. What’s he remorseful for? That he left himself down. That he let his wife down. That he let the community down, that he made a mistake. We’re all human beings, and on that evening for a number of different reasons he acted out of his character. He’s ashamed of his conduct, he’s sorry for what he did, he wishes to move on with his life.”
First assistant prosecutor Diane Ruberton said she was confident of obtaining a conviction if the case went to trail. Ruberton has offered a plea deal of no jail time and anger manager, but Diamonstein said Rice did not consider pleading guilty.
A casino video showing Rice and a seemingly unconscious Palmer was released by the website TMZ, and Ruberton said after the hearing Thursday that there was more video evidence.
“I’m confident that with the evidence we have that I can secure a conviction at trial,’’ Ruberton said. “If he is approved for P. T. I. and he successfully completes, your arrest will remain on his record, but we would have no conviction.”
The Ravens have made it clear that they expect Rice to be part of their team in 2014. However, even if he escapes criminal charges, Rice could be subject to fine or suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s conduct policy.