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April 3, 2012
Six weeks after being charged with two felonies, Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence at the Leon County Courthouse on Wednesday morning.
Wilder was sentenced to six months probation and nine days of jail work camp as part of his plea deal. He is also required to take anger management courses, write a letter of apology to the officer involved and will pay $225 in court costs.
The lesser misdemeanor charge means the sophomore, who has been suspended from team activities since he was charged with felony counts of resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer on Feb. 22, will return to football practice today. Per Florida State policy, students are not permitted to participate or represent the school in athletic events while felony charges are pending.
"He is excited, he is excited to get back on the field," Wilder's attorney Tim Jansen said following Wednesday's hearing in front of Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey on Wednesday morning. Jansen said that it was "his understanding" that Wilder would be back practicing with FSU today.
According to the Leon County Sheriff's Office release, deputies came to Wilder's apartment on Feb. 22 in search of a 20-year-old woman, Bianca Camarda, who had failed to appear in court. Wilder allowed the deputies in, and the woman was hiding in the bathroom. She was taken into custody without incident.
As a deputy escorted the woman to a patrol car, Wilder, 19, began to tell the deputy that the woman was not going to jail. The release states that Wilder stepped between the deputy and the woman and pushed the officer. The officer unholstered his taser and advised Wilder that he would be tased if he continued to interfere.
The release says Wilder began "yelling obscenities" while still saying the woman would not be going to jail. Wilder was then placed under arrest.
"We've said from the very beginning that it was a miscommunication," Jansen said. "James, his only role was to try and let the officer know that the lawyer had messed up his girlfriend's case. While in the meantime trying to portray that information and show a text to the officer and the officer felt threatened. He apologized, he knew from the very beginning that he probably should not have interfered, but it was an emotional thing."
Wilder is prohibited from contacting Camarda as part of his plea deal.
"He may not have meant to touch the officer, but any time you interfere with an officer, we can't let society do that," Jansen said. "He recognizes his mistake. Nine days in the jail work camp - he's going to have nine days to realize that, so hopefully it will never happen again.
"Hopefully this will be the end, and Mr. Wilder will make headlines on the football field and not in the courthouse."
Wilder's return to the practice field, even for just the final 7-10 days of spring drills, could provide a boost to a thin running back position. Mario Pender, a true freshman early enrollee, is the only healthy true tailback at FSU's disposal this spring with 2011 leading rusher Devonta Freeman out (back) and Chris Thompson (hand, back) limited to non-contact drills. Fullbacks Debrale Smiley and Lonnie Pryor had taken the majority of the first-team reps during Florida State's scrimmage on Saturday.
Wilder had 35 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in 2011 and scored a touchdown in the Seminoles' 35-30 loss at Wake Forest. He also caught two passes for 14 yards.
A Tampa native, Wilder was the No. 2-ranked running back and the No. 11 overall player in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com.