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Former UK basketball coach Billy Gillispie entered an alcohol rehabilitation center in Texas last week, but his Oct. 5 court date here on a DUI charge is still on.
That’s according Bill Patrick, the Lawrenceburg attorney defending Gillispie against the drunk driving charge he received Aug. 27 near Emma B. Ward Elementary School.
Gillispie checked into the John Lucas Athletes After Care Program near Houston and told Houston television station Fox 26 that he admits to having an alcohol problem. He reportedly underwent an evaluation last Thursday, and could spend several months in the facility.
That length of time would put him well past Oct. 5, the date he is scheduled to appear in Anderson District Court.
Patrick said Monday afternoon he has not made any attempt to have that date changed.
“Not at this time,” Patrick said, adding that he has spoken by phone with Gillispie.
Patrick said Gillispie will have to appear at some point, but said the Oct. 5 date wouldn’t necessarily be mandatory if he decides by then to request a trial instead of entering a plea.
“He would have to be here for a trial,” Patrick said, adding that it’s still too early to tell how the case will be resolved.
“Who knows where it could go at this point,” he said. “We haven’t made a decision how to resolve this case or how to approach it — ask for a trial date or if he winds up entering a plea.”
If he enters a plea, Patrick said it’s unlikely that Gillispie would do more than pay a fine.
“I don’t think the prosecutor would recommend jail time,” Patrick said.
If Gillispie decides to have a jury trial, he does risk some jail time. Patrick said because it’s a first offense — Gillispie has twice been charged but never convicted of DUI — if a jury finds him guilty, it would then recommend punishment which would range from two days to 30 days in jail.
Patrick acknowledged that when Gillispie does return to Lawrenceburg, a large crowd and sizeable media throng will likely be on hand to see him.
He said so much publicity and public interest adds plenty of pressure to the case.
“It obviously puts everybody, especially the prosecutor and the judge, under pressure to make sure proper procedure is followed ... not that they wouldn’t otherwise,” he said.
Gillispie told the Houston television station that he is “not very proud of what happened in Kentucky two weeks ago. That’s inexcusable at this stage of my life. It never should have happened.”
Gillispie said he has always been honest and truthful and has “never been afraid to accept responsibility.”
“I’ve definitely had a lot of hurt, but it’s self-inflicted hurt, and that’s what makes me the most disappointed.
“I’m also tough ... and I’m going to do whatever it takes. ... It’s totally sincere.”
Gillispie said his goals include getting back to coaching basketball.
“No. 1, I’m going to try to help myself and, No. 2, I’m going to try to get back into a situation where I can do what I love the most and what I miss the most, and that’s coach college basketball.”
E-mail Ben Carlson at email@example.com.