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Judge orders Indianapolis Colts safety released, but still faces gun charge

By Greg Seaby, CNN
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Indianapolis Colts safety Joe Lefeged faces gun charge stemming from traffic incident in Washington
Indianapolis Colts safety Joe Lefeged faces gun charge stemming from traffic incident in Washington
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Joe Lefeged was arrested over the weekend following a traffic stop in Washington
  • Police said they found his gun in a car that he was riding in
  • Prosecutors wanted him held without bond, but judge released him on his own recognizance
  • Lefeged has been with Colts for two years

Washington (CNN) -- Indianapolis Colts safety Joe Lefeged was allowed to walk out of court on Tuesday, but still faces a weapons charge stemming from an incident in the nation's capital in which police said they found his gun under the seat of a car he was riding in.

The NFL player appeared in D.C. Superior Court wearing an orange jump suit and handcuffs. But Magistrate Judge Frederick Sullivan ordered him released on his own recognizance after he waived his right to a preliminary hearing, meaning he did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors argued Lefeged, 25, should have been held without bond due to the nature of the offense.

"Based on everything I know, Joe is just a terrific, exemplary kid. He's been an exemplary citizen. He's never been in trouble before. And we are hoping we will be able to work this out," Lefeged's lawyer, David Schertler, said. "The judge made the right decision. There is no reason to hold Joe."

Police arrested Lefeged early Saturday after allegedly finding his semiautomatic handgun poking out from under the seat of a car he'd been a passenger in.

Police pulled over the white Camaro, saying it had been operating erratically. According to charging papers, police spotted a passenger standing in the backseat of the convertible.

Plainclothes officers repeatedly asked the driver to put the car in the park. Instead, according to the charging papers, he sped away. Police later found the car and its unidentified driver having fled on foot.

They also saw one man, later identified as Lefeged, running in one direction and the man who'd been standing in the car going another way.

Both were arrested without incident about four miles east of the Capitol, police said.

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Lefeged's first lawyer in the case, public defender Martina King, gave a different take on Saturday. She said her client was sitting in the Camaro's passenger seat when arrested.

Police at the scene found a clear bottle in the center console that smelled of alcohol and a black semiautomatic pistol "in plain view sticking out from underneath the front passenger seat," authorities said.

Investigators determined that Lefeged paid $900 for the gun, which he took possession of in late May, according to the charging papers.

Lefeged has been charged with carrying a gun outside of a home or business. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.

Washington has one of the strictest gun laws nationally.

The Colts would not comment on the case.

Lefeged has played in every game of his two-year professional football career, including four starts last season.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged last week with murder and other counts in the death of another man.

CNN's Pamela Brown, Carol Cratty, Greg Botelho, Larry Lazo and Vito Maggiolo contributed to this report.

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