Ex-NBA player Crittenton freed on bond in slaying

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ATLANTA (AP) - Former NBA player Javaris Crittenton was released from jail early Wednesday after posting $230,000 bond on charges that he killed a woman in a drive-by shooting in south Atlanta.

He was released from the Fulton County Jail hours after county Magistrate Judge Karen Woodson granted him bond during a hearing that featured hours after testimony from the player’s friends and coaches who said he was too focused on making a comeback to the NBA to squander his future on a revenge killing.

Prosecutors said they feared Crittenton could threaten two witnesses who implicated him in the Aug. 19 shooting death of 22-year-old Julian Jones in Atlanta. The judge sought to soothe those concerns by banning Crittenton from the crime scene, ordering him to wear an ankle monitor and requiring Paul Hewitt, who coached Georgia Tech when Crittenton starred there, to co-sign the bond with others who testified on his behalf.

The former first-round draft pick for the Los Angeles Lakers, who was suspended from the NBA after a locker room dispute with ex-teammate Gilbert Arenas, was arrested Aug. 30 at a southern California airport and charged with the shooting. He was initially charged in federal court with illegally fleeing Atlanta to avoid prosecution, but those charges were dropped last week.

Police said Crittenton was retaliating for being robbed of $55,000 worth of jewelry when the shooting happened. They said Jones was mistakenly hit by gunfire while standing outside her house with a man who wasn’t injured, 18-year-old Trontavious Stephens. Detectives said Stephens identified Crittenton in a photo lineup, and another neighbor singled him out as the gunman.

Defense attorney Brian Steel said the charges were based on faulty eyewitness testimony and that no physical evidence linked the player to the shooting. Police haven’t located blood or DNA evidence. Crittenton’s fingerprints weren’t found in the black SUV he rented hours before the shooting took place, and tests for gunpowder residue are still pending.

The trial is set to begin on Oct. 25.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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