Morris bail in Texas set at $500,000 Nov. 25 hearing set

Back will be expected for Monday workout

Ravens are relieved

Bye week keeps him from missing key work

October 11, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

A Texas district court judge set bail at $500,000 for the Ravens' Bam Morris yesterday, and the running back is expected to return to Baltimore by Monday to join the team in preparation for next Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.

A spokesman for the office of district judge Sue Pirtle said bail was set late yesterday afternoon and that the attorney for Morris will meet with Pirtle on Monday morning in an attempt to lower it to $50,000.

A Nov. 25 hearing date has been set for Morris to appear in Rockwall, Texas, on charges of violating two conditions of his 10-year probation by using alcohol and by failing to report to his probation officer seven times between July 6, 1996 and August 1997.

Neither Morris nor Jay Ethington, his attorney, returned telephone calls late yesterday afternoon. Morris turned himself in to Texas authorities around 8 a.m. EDT and was held in a detention center for most of the day.

"Bam might be in Baltimore [Friday night]," said his agent, Steve Zucker. "If not, he'll be in Baltimore by [today]. He wants to get back and started as soon as possible."

"We understand the due process and we respect that," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "We'll wait to see what develops the week of Thanksgiving."

Morris missed only two days of practice this week, which was the team's bye week. Many of the players are returning to their hometowns this weekend, but all are expected to practice Monday.

"Bam didn't miss much from practice this week because most of this was a review, so we're confident he'll be ready," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said.

There were tense moments at the team's training complex in Owings Mills yesterday because Pirtle could have ordered Morris to be held in Texas until his trial date.

Rockwall County Sheriff Jacques Kiere said Morris, 25, was arraigned by a justice of the peace in the morning, and spent most of the day at the Rockwall County Detention Center, waiting to see if bond would be set.

nTC Kiere described Morris' mood as quiet and said he was extremely well-mannered. Earlier in the day, Kiere said he expected the bail hearing to be either Monday or Tuesday, which meant he could have been held in detention for three or four days.

"I'm a little surprised," Kiere said. "Most of Judge Pirtle's cases are placed on Tuesday's docket, but if she feels there is some immediacy, then it could be heard Monday. Maybe she had an opening on her docket. I don't know."

Rockwall County authorities issued an arrest warrant for Morris on Thursday, and district attorney Ray Sumrow said Morris' 10-year probation should be revoked.

"We anticipate there will be some explanation to this and part of it will be a misunderstanding," Ethington said early yesterday morning. "We are not prepared to contest the allegations, but we certainly are analyzing them to a great extent."

Morris pleaded guilty to marijuana possession after his arrest in March 1996 on Interstate 30 near Rockwall, where a police officer discovered nearly 6 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car. Morris served a five-game NFL suspension at the start of last season.

The Ravens signed him to a two-year, $1.8 million contract last September, and Morris went on to rush for 618 yards in the final seven games of the season. But he ran into trouble again last January when a test found he had violated the league's policy on substance and alcohol abuse. He began the season by serving a four-game suspension.

The NFL refused to turn over the results of the player's test to Rockwall authorities, maintaining that the results are privileged information under Texas law because they are part of a voluntary substance-abuse program.

Morris is believed to have reasons for some of the missed probation meetings because in August he switched from an officer in Rockwall to one in Baltimore County.

NOTES: Quarterback Vinny Testaverde missed his second consecutive day of practice yesterday to be with his father, who had double coronary bypass surgery. Marchibroda said the team had an excellent week of practice. "We had a tremendous amount of review."

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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