Blades Tries to Start Over
After Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Brian Blades was convicted of manslaughter by a Florida jury on Friday, June 14, he spent the weekend as if in a trance. He got through his sister's wedding on Saturday and spent Sunday, Father's Day, with his two daughters. "When I woke up Monday morning, I thought, What am I about to face?" Blades told SI last week. Upon arriving at the Broward County courthouse for sentencing that day, says Blades, he ducked into a small waiting room and read the Bible. He says he recited the 23rd Psalm to himself as he entered the courtroom. "Fifteen minutes later," Blades says, "there was a blessing. The Lord promised to take care of me, and He did."
The Lord and Judge Susan Lebow. In a decision that left some courtroom observers in shock, Lebow—maintaining that the prosecution had failed to prove its case—ruled in favor of a defense motion for a directed verdict and reversed the jury's decision that Blades was guilty of culpable negligence in the July 1995 shooting death of his cousin Charles Blades. Instead of sentencing Blades to prison for up to 10 years, Lebow set him free.
However, Blades's legal troubles are not over. Prosecutor Peter Magrino filed a notice of appeal the day after Lebow's decision, which could result in the reinstatement of the guilty verdict within 18 months. According to Magrino's research, there have been five criminal cases in Florida in which a judge entered a directed verdict of not guilty after a jury had found a defendant guilty. In all five cases, he says, the guilty verdicts were reinstated. Even if the appeal is denied, Blades may still find himself back in the defendant's seat; in September, Marchelle Henry, the former wife of Charles and the mother of his teenage daughter, Crystal, filed a wrongful-death suit against Blades. According to testimony by Wilbur Peterson, a friend of Brian's who was in Brian's townhouse at the time of the shooting, Charles and Brian were wrestling over a handgun when the gun fired accidentally and killed Charles.
"We all had our own definitions of culpable negligence," said Frederick Black, the jury foreman, after the trial. "He did do something wrong. Yes, he did." But for now the 30-year-old wide receiver, who in March got a three-year, $4.5 million contract from the Seahawks, has a new life. He was in Los Angeles last week to appear in Jerry McGuire, a film that features a character based partly on his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Blades, whom Seattle fullback Steve Smith calls a "play-maker and a team leader," says he is hopeful and optimistic as he looks toward the upcoming season. Considering what happened to him in the courtroom, it's easy to understand why.
An Ace Too Early
For every duffer who scrapes a three-wood along the ground and gets a hole in one (SI, June 17), there are a dozen Alison Munts. Last Saturday in the third round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Greate Bay Resort and Country Club in Somers Point, N.J., Munt stepped to the tee on the 151-yard 14th hole and knocked a seven-iron into the cup. On Sunday, the only day a $25,000 hole-in-one prize was in effect, her tee shot at the 14th plopped 15 feet from the hole.
Mark this Exhibit 1,000,000 in golf's trial on charges of mental cruelty.
The opening bell in Atlanta is two weeks away, but the U.S. Olympic boxing team has already been through some bruising rounds, including last month's headline-grabbing one-two. On June 19 light middleweight David Reid was arrested on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and battery, and the following day it was revealed that super heavyweight Lawrence Clay-Bey is enrolled in a court-ordered rehabilitation program as part of a guilty plea to third-degree sexual assault following a February 1995 incident. But the real action, as is so often the case in boxing, has been on the inside.