ROCKVILLE -- The Mike Tyson traveling legal show and media circus rolled through the stately Montgomery County District Courthouse yesterday so the former boxing champ could enter a plea, talk about his next fight and proclaim his new political awareness.
Assuming he can stay out of prison, that is.
Tyson pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an Aug. 31 fender bender in Gaithersburg. Judge Stephen P. Johnson accepted the plea and set sentencing for early next year.
Prosecutor Carol Crawford urged that Tyson's sentence include jail time.
But Tyson may face more of a threat from Indiana authorities, who will decide whether the no-contest pleas violated his probation for a 1992 rape conviction. He served three years of a six-year sentence there.
The judge asked Tyson whether he understood that the outcome of his case here could affect his probation for the rape conviction.
"I'm truly aware of that, your honor," replied Tyson.
Then Johnson asked if Tyson understood he could go to prison for 20 years on the second-degree assault charges.
"Yes," Tyson said quietly.
Monica Turner, Tyson's wife, was driving in stop-and-go traffic when her Mercedes-Benz was nudged from behind by a car that had been rear-ended.
Crawford said an enraged Tyson got out of the passenger seat and punched Abimelic Saucedo, 62, in the face and kicked Richard Hardick, 50, in the groin.
Tyson's lawyer, Paul Kemp, said his client did not commit "an intentional assault" during the 2-to-3-minute outburst. "We admit to wrongdoing and losing our temper at roadside," Kemp told Johnson.
But, Kemp explained, Tyson was upset that neither man had asked if Turner was injured.
Saucedo and Hardick have received an undisclosed financial settlement from the boxer.
By entering a no-contest plea, Tyson avoids admitting guilt. However, his lawyers don't know whether that will help him in Indiana.
Those questions did not appear to bother Tyson, who signed autographs in the courthouse halls, pumped his fists to supporters, and said he hoped to fight Francois Botha as scheduled on Jan. 16.
Tyson paused briefly before getting into a black Lexus to try out, perhaps, his next career: political power broker.
"I'm joining the new form of black Republicans," he said. "My vote is going for me and [basketball star] Charles Barkley. He's going to help me campaign for Michael Steele for Congress."
Steele, who failed to get the Republican nomination for state comptroller, yesterday abandoned his bid to become state Republican Party chairman.
Pub Date: 12/02/98