Other Campuses: Pierce pleads guilty; faces jail time

By The Daily Iowan

(U-WIRE) IOWA CITY, Iowa – Unceremoniously ending months of courtroom drama, former Iowa player Pierre Pierce pleaded guilty to four criminal charges under a plea agreement with prosecutors just hours into jury selection.

Under the agreement, he will likely face up to four years in prison rather than the 56 years carried with the original charges. Prosecutors dropped two counts of first-degree burglary charges in exchange for guilty pleas to third-degree burglary, a Class D felony; assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor; and false imprisonment and fourth-degree criminal mischief, both serious misdemeanors.

The former Hawkeye basketball star could be sentenced to nine years in prison, but prosecutors said they will request that punishment for the third-degree burglary charge be suspended, deducting five years from his time behind bars. Sentencing is set for Oct. 14.

Pierce, 22, admitted on Monday he imprisoned a West Des Moines, Iowa, woman, whom he contended was his longtime girlfriend, in her townhouse on Jan. 27. When she fled, Pierce “threw papers around” the residence and broke a cable tube on her television, according to the plea agreement.

Jury selection began briefly on Aug. 15, but was temporarily suspended until Monday in order to hold an emergency hearing involving a police report that mysteriously went missing until a week before the trial was scheduled to begin.

-Traci Finch

dismissed or the trial delayed, defense attorney Alfredo Parrish accused prosecutors of withholding the report because it was favorable for Pierce. Fifth District Judge Gregory Hulse heard arguments and testimony for two days but ruled on Aug. 19 that the late information would not hurt Pierce’s defense.

Selection resumed Monday morning in Adel, Iowa, and it was scheduled to be done in staggering time periods to accommodate all jurors.

Assistant Johnson County Attorney Anne Lahey said last-minute guilty pleas are infrequent but do occur.

“The vast majority of the time [plea agreements are] in advance,” she said, adding that the court does not usually encourage late pleas because of the expense involved in calling jurors.

When offering lesser charges for defendants, Lahey said the Johnson County Attorney’s Office usually looks at the level of charges and the amount of harm to the victim.

The prosecutors also consider the threat the defendant is to society and the defendant’s previous criminal record, she said.

Pierce was accused of third-degree sexual abuse in 2002 but pleaded guilty to assault causing injury and received a deferred judgment.

Iowa Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby said in a statement that he’s “glad the matter has been successfully resolved.” Iowa coach Steve Alford kicked Pierce, the Hawkeyes’ former leading scorer, off the team in February.

“This has been a long and difficult process for all involved,” he said.

-Traci Finch