Ex-boxing champ Taylor gets probation on Arkansas felony charges

Fri May 20, 2016 3:52pm EDT
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By Steve Barnes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Former world middleweight boxing champion Jermain Taylor was given suspended sentences by an Arkansas judge on Friday and put on probation for six years, avoiding prison after pleading guilty in three separate cases.

The cases included shooting a cousin, discharging a firearm before a family at a Martin Luther King Day observance in Little Rock and striking a fellow patient at an Arkansas drug rehabilitation center.

The three cases produced nine felony charges against Taylor but some of the charges were dropped and others consolidated in an agreement reached with prosecutors in December.

"I just want to apologize to my state, to my kids and my cousin and my family," Taylor was quoted in local media as saying in court.

In addition to the probationary sentences, state circuit court Judge Leon Johnson ordered Taylor, 37, to perform 120 hours of community service and submit to periodic drug screening. 

The state had asked Johnson to impose either a 10-year prison sentence or a lengthy, supervised probationary term. 

Taylor, whose attorneys said is insolvent, has announced his intention to return to the ring. At an earlier hearing, the judge permitted Taylor to leave the state to train in Florida, provided he was supervised.

The boxer won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics and captured the world middleweight title in 2005 against Bernard Hopkins. Taylor abandoned competition in 2009 following a brain injury sustained in the ring, but launched a comeback in 2011.   Continued...

Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor (R) of the U.S. signs autographs after he was presented at a news conference in Copenhagen July 14, 2009.  REUTERS/Claus Bech/Scanpix Denmark