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The attorney for New York Jets running back Mike Goodson said Friday that Garant Evans, the driver of the vehicle when both men were arrested last month, told New Jersey State Police at the time of the arrest that the .45-caliber handgun found in the SUV belonged to him, not Goodson.
Goodson and Evans were both charged with possession of a firearm and hollow-point bullets, along with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
If the gun charge is dropped, Goodson's chances of remaining with the Jets would greatly improve. The third-degree weapon charge carries a minimum sentence of three years, if he is convicted.
Goodson's attorney, Anthony J. Fusco, said he received a report Wednesday from police that includes Evans' admission. Claiming to be quoting an arresting officer's statement in the report, Fusco said: "Upon briefly speaking to Evans, he stated the gun was his, but refused to answer questions regarding where it came from or where he acquired the gun."
Lt. Stephen Jones, a police spokesman, downplayed Fusco's claim, saying that ownership of the gun has yet to be determined.
"At the time of the arrest, it could not be determined who was in possession of the firearm because of the level of intoxication of both men," Jones said, adding: "Nothing has changed regarding the prosecution of this case."
Because they couldn't determine ownership, both men were charged, Jones said.
Evans' attorney, Joseph Afflito, released a statement that read: "Any statements allegedly made by Mr. Evans at the time of his arrest will be the subject of future hearings."
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 12 in Morristown, N.J., about 15 minutes from the Jets' training facility. The team will be in the middle of a mandatory minicamp, but Goodson is required to attend the hearing.
Goodson, one of the first free-agent signings by new general manager John idzik, skipped the first week of voluntary practices in the aftermath of his arrest. He returned for practice in the second week, and missed some time in the third week because of a stomach illness, according to his attorney.
He hasn't spoken to reporters, but he may address the media at the minicamp. Goodson, who signed a three-year, $6.9 million contract, is expected to be a key contributor in the Jets' backfield.
Jets officials have remain tight-lipped, saying they will comment once the legal process has played out.
Goodson was arrested May 17 when the vehicle Evans was driving was found stopped in the left-center lane on Route 80 in New Jersey shortly after 3 a.m. ET. A police affidavit says Goodson "was incoherent, slobbering and had vomited all over himself as well as the interior of the vehicle." He was so drunk that he had to be taken to a hospital before he was charged.
Two partially smoked marijuana cigars, along with drug paraphernalia, were found in the car, police said. A semi-automatic handgun was found loaded with five rounds, including one hollow-point bullet, according to police.
Evans was questioned at the nearby Netcong State Police barracks, where he allegedly admitted the gun belonged to him.