Ex-congressman avoids trial

July 20, 2009 4:09:19 PM PDT
There will be no jail time for a former Houston congressman accused of shooting at two teenagers. Craig Washington has agreed to a plea deal to avoid going to trial. Washington and both teenagers talked about the case outside the courtroom Monday.

Washington and his attorneys arrived in court Monday morning, ready to defend Washington against the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but there would no trial. Shortly before lunchtime, word came down that a deal had been reached. Washington would get two years of pre-trial diversion.

"I hope it strengthens other people to realize they don't have to be afraid of the system. All they have to do is get good lawyers, hopefully, which I have and I'm blessed to have friends," said Washington.

But what may be relief to the former congressman was seen very differently by Taylor Brooks and Evan McAnulty, the two young men Washington allegedly shot at on New Year's Day, 2008.

"It's very un-nerving because both of us could have lost of our lives that night," said McAnulty.

"It would be a different story if the bullet was an inch higher," added Brooks.

The young mens' parents say they had no warning prosecutors would offer the congressman a deal.

"We've always said people would hear the details in court," said Debbie Brooks, mother of one of the alleged victims. "And we never got a chance to tell that to everybody and show that what he's saying has not been true."

But Washington maintains he only fired at the two young men in self-defense and his attorney says this is a fair way to resolve the case.

"This is an informal way to resolve the case," said Kent Schaffer, Washington's attorney. "The case is essentially reset for two years. If during those two years, there is no violation of the agreement, then the case is dismissed."

If Washington doesn't get into any trouble in the next two years, the case will disappear.

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