Former UGA star Jalen Carter won’t face additional charges

AP photo by John Bazemore / Former Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter takes part in the Bulldogs' pro day Wednesday in Athens, Ga.
AP photo by John Bazemore / Former Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter takes part in the Bulldogs' pro day Wednesday in Athens, Ga.

ATHENS, Ga. — Former University of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was given 12 months of probation and a $1,000 fine on Thursday after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing related to a crash that killed Bulldogs offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staff member Chandler LeCroy.

Projected as one of the top players in next month's NFL draft, Carter was sentenced in Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court, according to a statement from attorney Kim T. Stephens, who represented the player. Carter also must complete 50 hours of community service and a state-approved defensive driving course, and his driving privileges have been suspended for 120 days.

The state can't bring additional charges against Carter, according to the statement, which said the 21-year-old from Apopka, Florida, entered the pleas "in order to resolve this matter in the most efficient manner possible."

Will Fleenor, solicitor general for Athens-Clarke County, released a statement saying law enforcement evaluated whether more serious charges were needed. Talks between his office, the district attorney's office and the prosecuting attorneys' council determined the traffic offenses were appropriate.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Carter on March 1, alleging he raced his 2021 Jeep Trackhawk against the 2021 Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy on Jan. 15. LeCroy, 24, and Willock, 21, died in the crash, which happened hours Georgia celebrated its second consecutive national championship with a parade and ceremony.

Stephens' statement said Carter's actions did not cause the crash and that he would have faced more serious charges if the investigation had determined otherwise. The statement also said Carter remained on the scene and returned even after being told he could leave to answer additional questions.

Carter was not under the influence of alcohol or any other illegal substance, the statement added.

"Mr. Carter continues to grieve the loss of his friends and continues to pray for their families, as well as for continued healing for injured friends," the statement read.

Offensive lineman Warren McClendon, another NFL draft hopeful, sustained minor injuries in the crash while Georgia football staff member Victoria Bowles was hospitalized with more serious injuries.

Carter pleaded a day after working out for NFL team representatives at Georgia's pro day, where he took part in position drills but appeared to be dealing with cramps that kept him participating in other activities, including the 40-yard dash and the broad jump. He left without speaking to the media.

Although he attended the NFL scouting combine two weeks ago in Indianapolis, he did not work out there.

Carter, who is 6-foot-3, weighed 323 pounds Wednesday. He was listed by Georgia at 300 pounds during the most recent season — when he had 32 tackles, including seven for lost yardage and three sacks — and checked in at 314 at the combine.

At pro day, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart — whose 15 players drafted last season set an NFL record for one school — called Carter a "major talent," noting "very few guys I've coached have the talent he has."

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