COLUMBUS, Ohio – Maurice Clarett was ordered to have a mental health evaluation following a bizarre and violent encounter with police in which the former Ohio State football star was caught with four guns after a highway chase.
The judge delayed a trial set to begin Monday on previous charges in which the player is accused of holding up two people outside a bar on New Year's Day.
Judge David Fais ordered the evaluation against the wishes of Clarett and his attorneys, citing the events surrounding the arrest early Wednesday.
"I clearly understand everything and I don't why we have to drag this thing out," said Clarett, who scoffed, smiled and rolled his head back when Fais announced his ruling.
Clarett said he was ready to go to trial. He wrote a few notes to his attorney while his hands were cuffed. His girlfriend, who had the couple's baby daughter last month, and Clarett's mother sat in the courtroom.
Fais said he was concerned by Clarett's attorneys saying in published reports that they were worried about his mental health.
"It's my job. I have to ensure that your rights are protected," Fais said.
Defense attorneys twice objected to the order for an evaluation.
"We do not wish to see these proceedings continue at all," attorney Michael Hoague said.
Prosecutors said they supported the decision for the evaluation.
Fais also revoked Clarett's $1.1 million bond on the charges, meaning that Clarett figures to remain in jail until the new trial date of Sept. 18.
Clarett's latest run-in with the law began when police noticed a vehicle driving erratically, prompting a chase that ended with police spiking the SUV's tires. Officers said they could not easily subdue Clarett because he was wearing a bulletproof vest that thwarted their stun guns.
After several police using pepper spray finally got him into handcuffs, the 6-foot, 245-pounder continued to struggle, kicking at the doors of the transport vehicle. Officers also secured a cloth mask over Clarett's mouth after they say he spat at them.
Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and a traffic violation, and police said more charges are possible.
He was driving a few blocks from the home of a woman scheduled to testify against him in his robbery trial. In that case, witnesses said Clarett flashed a gun and robbed them of a cell phone behind a Columbus nightclub.
Fais said he thought allowing time to pass between the highway chase and Clarett's trial on the robbery charges would be beneficial. The delay also will give the court more time to draw the larger jury pool that will be necessary to find impartial people because of the publicity surrounding the case, he said.
As a freshman, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship. It was the last game he played for the Buckeyes.
He was suspended for the following season after being charged with falsely reporting a theft to police. After dropping out of school, he unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's draft eligibility rule.
The Broncos made him a surprise third-round pick the following year, but he was cut during the preseason.