Fuller trial begins, Suggs' trial continued

OWINGS MILLS -- During opening arguments in the gambling and firearms trial of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller, his lawyer told a jury Thursday that Fuller was unfairly targeted because he's a celebrity.<br><br> Fuller, 33, was arrested nine months ago after law enforcement officials raided his Tallahassee, Fla., home and broke up a poker game with pots containing thousands of dollars. Florida state law only allows card players to gamble up to $10 a hand.

"The evidence is going to show the reason we're here is not what Mr. Fuller did, but who Mr. Fuller is," Fuller's lawyer, Timothy Jansen, said in his opening statement, according to the Associated Press. "Their investigation was detailed to target Mr. Fuller." Fuller faces a third-degree felony gambling charge of operating an illegal gaming house and a second-degree firearms charge of brandishing a weapon while in commission of a felony. He also faces a misdemeanor gambling charge. If convicted, Fuller could face a maximum five-year sentence and a $5,000 fine. The trial is expected to last two days. Assistant state attorney Matt Smith told the jury that witnesses, including an undercover officer from Miami who infiltrated the game, will testify that Fuller wore a gun in his waistband or a holster while presiding over a high-stakes card game called "Georgia Skins." "He was standing around the table like a pit boss ... he took his cut," Smith said of Fuller. Jansen emphasized that Fuller obtained a concealed-weapons permit after a shootout with masked intruders who tried to invade his home Jan. 21, 2004. The exhange of 20 gunshots (without injuries) prompted the investigation. Police said that the incident was related to card games at Fuller's home, according to court records. A Tallahassee native who played at Florida State, Fuller has denied the charges and said he plans to no longer live there after the trial. "I'm definitely out of there," Fuller said last summer. "The third strike for me there could be detrimental to my life. "Going to jail? Not with all of the other things going on in the world. What I'm accused of doing, no, I can't see myself going to jail." NOTE: The felony aggravated assault trial of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was continued with a trial management conference set for May 13 in Maricopa County Superior Court (Ariz.). ... Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister had toe surgery after the season and was replaced by Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain in the Pro Bowl. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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