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Tyson went back into the gym on Thursday, but even during a light workout the pain was too severe. He reluctantly agreed to the postponement. Higgins thinks Tyson will need six to 10 weeks to heal completely, which would barely allow him the customary four weeks of sparring before a Jan. 18 fight.
On Oct. 9, one day after Tyson's first visit to Higgins, Tyson's lawyers filed a motion to have not only the trial postponed but also a series of routine pretrial proceedings. The defense claimed that because the transcripts of the grand jury minutes were late—a rule, not always observed, requires that the minutes be available within 10 days of an initial hearing—the defense could not adequately prepare for trial. The prosecution thought otherwise, and pointed out to Judge Gifford, in a response to the defense motion, that the minutes would be available this week. Gifford gave the defense three more weeks to file a motion to dismiss the case, but she denied the motion to postpone the trial. Her ruling was issued last Friday morning—only hours before the public disclosure of Tyson's injury.
Sources close to the case regard the timing of those two events with a good deal of skepticism. "If Tyson fights in January," says one source, "he can find the basis to file for a continuance because of reasons like 'I haven't met with my lawyers, I'm training, I'm hurt, I'm tired.' "
But with the fight now only a remote possibility for mid-January, will Tyson's lawyers try to convince Judge Gifford to postpone the trial and not set a date until after the fight, whenever that might be? Lawyers defending rape cases routinely seek postponements on the theory that the passage of time between the alleged rape and the trial never benefits the prosecution: Witnesses' memories fade and the woman herself might lose the stomach for the tortuous legal fight. That scenario enrages at least one person close to the investigation. "The judge should say now that this trial will not be changed because of the date of the fight," says the source.
Adds one lawyer involved in the case, "It will be up to the judge to decide whether to delay the trial so that Tyson's multimillion-dollar payday can occur."
Not a chance, say criminal lawyers in Indianapolis. Gifford is unlikely to authorize an appeal of her own order. Moreover, getting a postponement of a trial of this magnitude is not easy.
Tyson's lawyers will also face a formidable adversary when the trial begins. Earlier this month, the prosecutors added Greg Garrison, a prominent Indianapolis criminal lawyer in private practice, to their team. Given to cowboy boots, suspenders and oratory, Garrison was an Indiana prosecutor for 18 years, who won numerous convictions in capital cases. "Adding Garrison to the case will raise the emotional level and intensity level considerably," says Stephen Goldsmith, the Marion County prosecutor for 12 years before leaving the office in 1990 to run for mayor of Indianapolis.
If convicted, Tyson could spend 63 years in prison. Says Holyfield, "It's up to the court. I can't fight him if he's in jail. But it won't bother me if I don't fight him. I want to fight the best man available, and if he's not available, then we will find the next best guy and fight him."
But not with a $30 million payday.