- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009

FRANKLIN, Tenn. | Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth received a stern warning from a Tennessee judge Thursday after pleading no contest to reckless driving.

“You clearly have a problem with speed around here,” Williamson County Circuit Judge Jeff Bivins said. “This happened less than four days after you settled a speeding ticket. Please let this be a wake-up call to you, along with the tragic events that occurred this week, that no one is infallible.”

Bivins was referring to the murder of former Tennessee Titans quarterback and teammate Steve McNair, who was found shot to death in a Nashville apartment July 4. Several Titans, including coach Jeff Fisher, have homes in Williamson County, the wealthiest area in Tennessee.

Haynesworth’s plea agreement includes a three-month probation sentence, 25 hours of community service, a $5,000 contribution to an organization that offers counseling to emergency responders and an eight-hour defensive driving course. He’s allowed to check in with a Tennessee probation officer by phone.

The reckless driving charge stems from a crash Haynesworth was accused of causing Dec. 13. Prosecutors said Haynesworth was driving a black 2008 Ferrari at about 8:30 a.m. on Interstate 65, which runs between Nashville and Brentwood, where he lived. A witness told police she was driving 70 mph and the Ferrari passed her, then swerved into another lane of traffic, causing a Mercury Marquis driven by Corey Edmondson, 25, to crash into a concrete barrier.

“We agree that we are not going to contest those facts in this case,” Haynesworth’s attorney Glen Funk said.

The crash occurred four days after Haynesworth was sentenced to 30 days’ probation for driving 103 mph on the same stretch of interstate. He also had been charged with driving a vehicle without registration, but District Attorney Kim Helper said that was dismissed.

On Tuesday, Haynesworth made an unscheduled courtroom appearance, asking Bivins to approve the plea agreement then. Bivins refused to hear the case and told Haynesworth to come back Thursday. A court clerk said Haynesworth tried to avoid the media.

Two television crews and a newspaper photographer were in court Thursday. Both Haynesworth and Funk declined to be interviewed.

Through a team spokesman, the Redskins also declined comment, referring all questions to Funk.

Haynesworth still faces civil charges in a lawsuit filed by Edmondson, who is seeking $7.5 million in damages. Edmondson, who said he’s a fan of Haynesworth’s, spent months in a hospital and had hip replacement surgery.

Alan M. Sowell, who represents Haynesworth in the civil case, filed documents June 30 denying fault. Sowell wrote that Haynesworth’s Ferrari began to fishtail after driving over a “slick spot” and crossed into Edmondson’s lane. Sowell also wrote that Edmondson sped up and passed Haynesworth before the crash.

Sowell is trying to keep the speeding ticket and probation out of the civil case. He filed a motion to strike paragraphs in Edmondson’s complaint that pertain to the ticket, calling those claims “clearly immaterial and irrelevant.” Sowell requested an order to block Edmondson from obtaining information about the speeding ticket.

“This suit is one of private concern and does not have any legitimate public interest since it involves a motor vehicle accident with private parties,” Sowell wrote.

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