If there had been anyone left in the cold, somber courtroom there would have been a buzz when Gary Williams walked in. After all, it isn't every day that a celebrity, especially the basketball coach at the University of Maryland, comes to court.
But by the time Williams, 45, walked into the newly christened Montgomery County District Court in Silver Spring to face drunken driving charges yesterday, the courtroom was empty.
In its previous life, the courthouse had been a funeral home, and the aura certainly matched Williams' mood, as he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to drive within a single lane.
Williams was given an unsupervised probation before judgment for 12 months, meaning a final verdict on the case will be withheld until he has fulfilled all of the terms of the probation, including attendance at an alcohol education class.
Williams was fined a total of $295 on the two charges. A third charge, driving without a valid driver's license, was dropped by prosecutors.
If Williams, who had never been charged with drunken driving, does not violate the probation, the charges will disappear from his record at the end of the year and the one point that would be assessed to his driving record also would vanish.
Jim Trusty, an assistant county prosecutor, said Williams was treated no differently than other first offenders in drunken driving cases.
"All of it is very typical," said Trusty. "If he does everything right, then he won't have the point."
After the case, Williams declined to answer questions, but issued a three-sentence statement, which read: "I apologize to my family, friends, the University of Maryland and President [William E.] Kirwan and our supporters. This is a first-time incident and measures have been taken to make sure it never happens again. People who know me have been very supportive during this time. I thank them for their efforts on my behalf."
A spokesman in the Maryland sports information department said the university would have no comment on the matter.
Williams' case was the last to be called. Williams, dressed in a gray suit, was emotionless, offering only one-word responses to questions posed by Montgomery County District Court Judge Louis D. Harrington.
"Do you understand the charges?" "Yes."
L "Have you spoken with your attorney about this case?" "Yes."
"Are you pleading guilty, because, in fact, you were driving on May 12 after drinking?" "Yes."
After Harrington accepted the plea, Trusty then read into the record a statement of facts.
A state trooper noticed that Williams had been weaving across the four-lane highway, crossing one lane marking eight times. The officer clocked Williams' speed at 65 mph. When Williams was stopped, the officer noted his slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.
Williams was then arrested and taken to a local police station, where his blood-alcohol level was measured at .11, just above the state level for intoxication.