- Associated Press - Thursday, May 3, 2012

MCKINNEY, TEXAS (AP) - The legal stakes have been raised in the tumultuous divorce case between Deion Sanders and his estranged wife with a new criminal charge against the Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Police in Sanders‘ hometown of Prosper, north of Dallas, filed a new complaint with the Collin County District Attorney’s Office accusing Sanders of criminal mischief, according to a city statement Thursday. The complaint only says that the charge results from the department’s ongoing investigation of an April 23 scuffle between Deion and Pilar Sanders at their palatial Prosper home.

However, at a court hearing in their divorce case, a Prosper police officer testified that a cellphone belonging to a friend of Pilar Sanders was found smashed outside the house.

No arrest has been made relating to the new charge. Criminal mischief is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Both Deion and Pilar Sanders already face charges of simple assault. Those misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $500.

During the court hearing Thursday in McKinney, Prosper police Officer John Gardner described what he saw immediately after he and another officer responded to the disturbance call at the Sanders home.

Gardner, who interviewed Deion Sanders immediately after the incident, testified that the ex-NFL star told him that he was in a kitchen area attached to his bedroom in his end of the house when Pilar Sanders began to kick at the kitchen door. Deion Sanders told the officer that his wife began slapping him, so he grabbed her by the waist and carried her from the bedroom.

Deion Sanders reported that when he got outside the bedroom, Pilar Sanders and her friend Dianna Boswell began to hit him, Gardner testified. Boswell held a cellphone up to his face, but Sanders told the officer that he knocked the phone away. The phone was later found outside, with its memory card nearby.

“He said, `I don’t know. I just threw it out here.’ And that’s where I found it at,” Gardner testified.

A crime lab test of the memory card came back with no video on it.

Regarding an image Deion Sanders posted through his Twitter account of him and his sons filling out police reports, Gardner said he did not know about it but “I would have asked him not to during that point in time.”

Deion Sanders later removed the photo.

Asked about the mug shot of Pilar Sanders shortly after her arrest, in which she appeared to have an injured lip, Gardner said it appeared to him as if she had bitten her own lip.

Earlier Thursday, Pilar Sanders‘ attorney, Larry Friedman, said her arrest after allegations that she attacked the former NFL cornerback was “a complete setup.” The hearing was part of the couple’s battle over custody of their three children and who will keep their $5.7 million home.

Deion Sanders filed for divorce in December, but the pair still shared the home until Pilar Sanders‘ arrest after the April 23 scuffle. Police later charged Deion Sanders but said his charge didn’t warrant an arrest.

Friedman said the former football star repeatedly called Prosper police until they arrested his wife. The attorney also said Deion Sanders violated a gag order in the case by doing TV interviews and posting updates on Twitter.

“He can do anything he wants, anytime he wants to anybody he wants because he’s `Prime Time,’” Friedman said, referring to Deion Sanders‘ nickname from his playing days.

Rick Robertson, Deion Sanders‘ attorney, said Pilar Sanders has failed to take their children to school on time and has “been physically abusive” to them.

“His children are one of the main reasons he’s here,” Robertson said of his client. “His role of father exceeds the role of most fathers.”

Jeffery Shore, an attorney for the children, ages 12, 10 and 8, said they are struggling in school and need counseling.

“They live in a combat zone,” Shore said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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