Fan changes mind, pleads no contest in Pacers-Pistons brawl case

Friday, February 11th 2005, 11:24 am
By: News On 6

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ A fan who walked onto the court during a November brawl between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons pleaded no contest Friday to violating a local ordinance against entering a performance space.

Alvin Shackelford Jr., after initially indicating in court Friday that he would proceed to a jury trial, offered the plea later in the morning. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated the same as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes.

Joan Bacon, who represents the city of Auburn Hills, recommended no jail time for the 21-year-old Burt resident.

Shackelford was hit by Pacers forward Ron Artest after approaching the player on the court during the Nov. 19 melee at The Palace. The charge is punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Earlier Friday, Richard Alger, Shackelford's lawyer, opted to go to trial after the judge refused to guarantee that she would not sentence his client to jail.

However, Alger said Shackelford thought about it and changed his mind.

Asked how he felt about the day's developments, Shackelford said: ``We'll see how I feel later after sentencing.''

Like much of the brawl, Shackelford's entry onto the court was captured on video. Had the case gone to trial, Alger said he would have argued that Shackelford was not technically on the playing surface, but rather in the out-of-bounds zone.

Charlie Haddad, also 21 and of Burt, earlier pleaded no contest to the same charge. The two fans, who were at the game together, both are scheduled for sentencing on March 16.

Four other Pistons fans and five Indiana players are charged with assault and battery in the fight. Another fan, Bryant Jackson, has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of felony assault for throwing a chair.