Green Bay Packers’ defensive end Johnny Jolly’s felony drug possession trial has been rescheduled for July 30, the day the Packers open training camp.
Jolly’s trial has been pushed back several times now, which was not totally unexpected. In Harris County, Texas, where Jolly will be tried, cases with defendants who are in jail take precedence over other cases on the docket.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has summoned a twice-convicted felon to testify against Jolly, according to the Journal Sentinel.
A bench warrant was issued in Harris County (Texas) for Herman Betancourt, 36, to be a witness for the state in the felony drug possession case against the Green Bay Packers’ end.
It is believed that Betancourt, a two-time felon, is the person Assistant Harris County District Attorney Todd Keagle had in mind when he filed a notice Wednesday stating his intention to “use extraneous offenses and prior convictions for impeachment and/or punishment” during the trial.
Betancourt, 36, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for possessing 400 grams or more of codeine after reaching a plea agreement Jan. 8, 2009. He was recently moved from maximum-security Huntsville to Estelle, a medium-security facility.
Jolly was found in possession of more than 200 grams of codeine during a traffic stop in 2008 and the prosecution plans to introduce evidence that Jolly “bought, sold, funded, transported and aided in the buying, selling, funding and transportation of illegal narcotics including cocaine and marijuana.”
Of course, this evidence can only be used during the sentencing phase of the trial if Jolly is found guilty.
For the Packers, the new trial date doesn’t mean much. The team has obviously considered the ramifications of Jolly’s situation and they have planned accordingly, from drafting Mike Neal to moving Ryan Pickett to defensive end.
The team was obviously aware they would be without Jolly for some time, whether it was because he was on trial, suspended by the NFL or in prison. While I usually like to rake Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson over the coals, he deserves credit for his foresight in this case.
Jolly, meanwhile, isn’t currently under contract with the Packers. He hasn’t signed his restricted free agent tender and it’s not out of the question that the Packers could withdraw their offer.