RICHMOND, Va. - Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick plans to plead guilty to state dogfighting charges, a step that could allow him to qualify for an early release from federal prison and into a halfway house, court papers show.
In a motion filed Oct. 15 in Surry County Circuit Court, Vick's attorneys asked to have him enter his plea by video teleconference. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Oct. 30, Surry County Circuit Court administrator Sally Neblett said Tuesday.
The court papers note that allowing Vick to appear on two-way video would save the government the considerable expense of transporting him from prison in Leavenworth, Kan., to Surry County. His guilty plea would also allow him to pursue a halfway house program.
Under federal rules, Vick is ineligible to be released to a Residential Re-entry Center in the federal system until any pending charges against him are resolved.
In a statement, Vick attorneys Billy Martin and Lawrence Woodward said their client "is committed to taking responsibility for his actions. He is hopeful that, through this motion, the trial court will allow him to finally resolve these matters and put the charges behind him so that he can begin to focus on his future and to prepare to be reunited with his family."
The plea deal, if approved, also would satisfy the county's need to hold him accountable for the grisly crimes he bankrolled and participated in at a rural house he owned there.
"I'm not trying to make him suffer," Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Poindexter said in a telephone interview. "I'm just trying to make him account for what he's done."
Vick pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges tied to the dogfighting operation last summer and is serving a 23-month term. Three convicted co-defendants also face local charges. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons lists Vick's projected release date as July 20, 2009.
Vick will have three years of federal probation upon his release from prison, and the deal offered by Poindexter would tack on an unspecified jail sentence, which would be suspended, and an additional year of probation in the county, he said.
Poindexter said he's not sure how quickly the judge would rule on the motion.
If permitted by a judge, Vick's video participation in the plea hearing would not be the first time he has participated electronically. Prison officials in Kansas have allowed the former Atlanta Falcons star to listen via telephone line to each of his several bankruptcy hearings in recent months.