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Friday, March 26, 2004
Justice faces weapons charges

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Winston Justice, a starting offensive tackle at Southern California the past two years, has reportedly been suspended for two semesters for allegedly pulling a pellet gun at another student, meaning he won't be eligible to play next season.

The Trojans, the defending Associated Press national champions, have already lost star wide receiver Mike Williams and All-American defensive end Kenechi Udeze, underclassmen who gave up their remaining eligibility to make themselves available for the NFL draft.

In addition, starting fullback Brandon Hancock underwent surgery for a torn knee ligament last week and won't play next season. Hancock has two years of eligibility remaining.

The Los Angeles Daily News, which first reported Justice's suspension by USC's student-affairs office, said the 19-year-old sophomore has appealed the decision.

"Right now, Winston Justice is suspended for spring ball," USC sports information director Tim Tessalone said Friday. "His future status is pending. That's all we're allowed to say on it at this time because of student privacy rules."

Justice told the Los Angeles Times he wasn't considering turning pro.

"I can't see myself playing anywhere else," Justice said. "Right now, I can't see myself being anything but a Trojan. I'm not ready yet" for the NFL.

Justice was ruled ineligible for spring practice and has been suspended from school since being arrested March 3 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a confrontation that occurred near campus last month.

The city attorney's office filed three misdemeanor counts of exhibition of a replica firearm against Justice on Wednesday, each of which carries a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a maximum of 180. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Justice is on probation after pleading no contest in July to a misdemeanor count of solicitation of prostitution in nearby Long Beach.