Brent pleads not guilty to misdemeanor charges

Photo courtesy of Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

Photo courtesy of Department of Intercollegiate Athletics

By Meghan Montemurro

Illinois defensive lineman Josh Brent pleaded not guilty at the Champaign County Circuit Court on Monday morning to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.

Brent, a sophomore from Bloomington, Ill., was arrested at 1:37 a.m. Saturday morning at the intersection of Lincoln and Florida avenues, according to Illinois State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. Police also ticketed Brent for speeding. Dan Pope, Brent’s attorney, declined to comment on the situation after the hearing.

Brent is due back in Champaign County Circuit Court on April 30, though it may be moved to an earlier date. Rietz added that Brent is due to appear in Livingston County on March 23, where a warrant was issued for his arrest after he allegedly failed to appear in court on suspended license charges. Rietz said the arresting officer can only write misdemeanor tickets, and the 21-year-old may face felony charges after his record is reviewed.

Rietz added that “our general practice is if you are eligible for it,” the felony charges will be brought. Brent took a Breathalyzer test that registered his blood-alcohol level at .114, Rietz said.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook said in a release Sunday that Brent is suspended until the team can “gather all the facts.” He said officials will continue to monitor the information.

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Rietz has come under fire from some in the Illinois community for supposedly seeking harsher sentences for athletes in trouble with the law. She acknowledged the Internet message board accusations but adamantly denied them.

“The football player angle means nothing for me,” Rietz said Monday morning. “I don’t care that he’s a football player.

“I don’t know who Josh Brent is,” Rietz added.

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound lineman played in 10 games last fall as a sophomore after missing the first two games of the season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report