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Suspect in strip club shooting enters plea

The Washington man accused of firing shots during a strip club brawl that ensnared professional football player Adam “Pacman” Jones claimed Tuesday the All-Pro cornerback fingered him to boost his chances of being reinstated to the NFL.

Arvin Kenti Edwards, 29, pleaded not guilty to charges that include attempted murder and battery. He shook his head and loudly mumbled objections to the prosecution’s description of his criminal background before District Court Judge Valorie Vega set his bail at $2 million.

Edwards’ attorney, Jeffrey Segal, said that for nine months following the shooting, Jones, whom authorities initially believed to be the gunman, said he knew nothing about the incident. After he signed a plea agreement and was negotiating a deal to be traded from the Tennessee Titans to the Dallas Cowboys, Jones pointed out Edwards in a photo lineup.

“The star witness denied knowing anything about this until he cut a deal,” Segal said. “He made statements to the police, to the NFL, to the team, to the media numerous times about how he knew nothing about it. Nine months later, he comes up with this story.”

Segal suggested that Jones wanted it to appear he was cooperating with the government to enhance his chances to be reinstated into the league and welcomed by the Cowboys after he was suspended and sat out last season.

Jones avoided jail time by pleading no contest in December to conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct in connection with the brawl. He also agreed to testify against the gunman.

Segal told Vega that when presented photos of possible suspects, Jones pointed to Edwards but said he was only 75 percent sure Edwards was the triggerman.

“There is almost no evidence against him in this case and certainly no credible evidence,” Segal said.

Clark County prosecutor Victoria Villegas said Jones positively identified Edwards. Villegas said a valet attendant at the topless club also claimed Edwards was the one who fired three shots during the Feb. 19, 2007, melee.

As Villegas urged Vega to uphold a no-bail warrant, Edwards muttered objections. Segal shushed Edwards several times as Villegas explained that he had been charged with domestic violence and drug-related crimes. Segal said the domestic violence charge was dismissed and the drug charge was five years old.

Segal declined to say what role, if any, Edwards played in the shooting that left Las Vegas bouncer Tommy Urbanski paralyzed from the waist down. Edwards was indicted Friday on three counts of attempted murder; three counts of battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm; and one count of possession of a firearm by an ex-felon.

The fracas in the club was triggered by Jones, authorities said, who showered strippers with hundred-dollar bills as they danced. The act, known as “making it rain,” was intended as a visual effect. The fight erupted when the strippers began picking up the cash.

Jones and his entourage were bounced from the club. The shootings occurred minutes later.

Villegas said the district attorney’s office had to obtain a special warrant to bring Edwards to Las Vegas after he refused extradition.

“We have very serious criminal charges the defendant is facing,” Villegas told the judge, adding that she considers Edwards to be a flight risk.

Vega set bail at $2 million, saying she cannot legally hold Edwards without setting bail. She set his trial for March 2.

When asked outside court whether he believed Jones was treated differently than Edwards because he is a professional athlete, Segal paused.

“I don’t know,” he said. “All I know is this guy denied knowing about any of this for nine months. He then went to the prosecution and said I didn’t do it and pointed to my client. They said, ‘Oh, OK Adam.'”

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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