Brooks pleads no contest to charges

Ahmad Brooks, a star football player from Hylton High School and a part of the future of the University of Virginia’s program, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Prince William General District Court to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

If Brooks meets the terms and conditions of a six-month probationary period, the charge will be dismissed.

Chief Judge Wenda K. Travers ruled that Brooks, as a first-time offender, would be required to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment, plus any treatment deemed necessary through that process. Brooks, 19, has to perform 24 hours of community service in Charlottesville.

During the next six months, his driver’s license will be restricted and he will undergo random drug tests. Any positive, abnormal or diluted screening would result in a conviction. However, if he meets the terms, the charge will be dismissed when he returns to General District Court the morning of Jan. 26.

“It is important to note that he has not been convicted of any crime,” said Chester Banks, the attorney for Brooks. “This is just another avenue for the charges to be dismissed. He wants to get this behind him and be back in the environment [at U.Va.] that he was in.

“I’m confident this young man will do extremely well in life. He’s a fine person and this is no indication of things to come,” Banks added.

Brooks was contrite as he quickly read a statement following the preliminary hearing. He began by apologizing to his family, teammates and schools.

“I was in no way found guilty,” Brooks said. “This is only part of a larger picture.”

Brooks was arrested May 17 when police stopped a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass he was riding in after it crossed the center line twice on Waterway Drive in Montclair, police said. According to police, a bag of marijuana was at Brooks’ feet in the left rear passenger’s seat.

Misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana have been dropped against Marcus Dewayne Hamer, the 19-year-old driver of the vehicle, and 20-year-old Dale Barfield, a passenger.

“There was insufficient evidence to link them to knowing of the possession of marijuana, so they were not charged,” said Michael Dixon, senior assistant commonwealth attorney.

Regarding Brooks, Dixon also said, “I think the facts were fairly straightforward. There was no prior history and it’s certainly not an unusual disposition to have regarding someone who’s a first offender.”

Brendan McConnell, assistant commonwealth attorney, said Brooks was treated as any defendant with this charge would have been. “The disposition would have been the same for anyone — in Virginia, in any other state or in federal law,” McConnell said.

U.Va. officials had no comment regarding Brooks’ situation. He said in court Tuesday that he would leave for Charlottesville later in the day. Brooks remains eligible to begin his collegiate career Aug. 30 when Duke University’s football team visits Charlottesville.

“He was treated no differently than anyone else would have been,” Banks said. “My client is innocent and we’re confident that the charge will be dismissed. After six months, nothing will be on his record.

“We decided to handle it this way because we wanted to get this behind us and let the young man move forward without a trial.”

Brooks, a 2001 Hylton graduate who was part of two state championship teams, was named USA Today’s National Defensive Player of the Year after his senior season at Hylton. The linebacker attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham as a post-graduate before enrolling at U.Va. in January.

As a U.Va. freshman, Brooks finished the season in the spring intersquad game with five tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. The Sporting News has recognized him this pre-season as the defensive newcomer of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.