CHRISTIANSBURG — Ty Outlaw, the former Virginia Tech basketball player whose marijuana charge this spring threatened to bounce him from playing in the Sweet 16, didn’t show up Thursday for a court date and was convicted — but only briefly — of the misdemeanor.
Within hours of Outlaw’s no-show, Radford attorney Jimmy Turk persuaded Montgomery County General District Court Judge Gino Williams to undo the guilty verdict, along with the sentence of a $100 fine and a six-month driving license suspension, and consider the matter again on Sept. 12.
It was just the latest twist in a case that began amid the flurry of March Madness. That was when Tyrone Khalil Outlaw, as the 23-year-old is formally known in court records, was charged with possessing marijuana that a police officer discovered in Blacksburg — while Outlaw was thousands of miles away playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Outlaw was not in the courtroom Thursday morning when his case was called about 45 minutes after its scheduled time.
Officer H.A. Rose of the Blacksburg Police Department, who executed the search warrant that led to charges against Outlaw, told Williams that she is waiting on lab test results related to another drug charge against Outlaw.
A felony charge of possessing a controlled substance, filed about two weeks after the marijuana possession charge, is set to be heard Dec. 12.
There was no courtroom discussion Thursday of the details of Outlaw’s marijuana case, or how he came to be charged with possessing marijuana in Blacksburg while he was competing in California.
The hearing ended in minutes, and Rose — and reporters — left the courtroom.
About half an hour after the hearing, the court clerk’s office said that Outlaw had no attorney on file as representing him on the marijuana charge, but that Turk was listed as his defense attorney for the felony drug possession charge.
General District Court Clerk Kimberly McKittrick said that later Thursday, as court continued, Turk appeared before Williams and said that he also would defend Outlaw against the marijuana charge — and asked that the guilty verdict be set aside and the case continued.
Williams agreed to do so, McKittrick said.
“It actually happens pretty often,” McKittrick wrote in an email later Thursday. “I think there was just confusion as the court did not have a letter of representation from Mr. Turk and court assumed no one was appearing on the matter and tried the defendant in absence.”
The quirky case involving Outlaw briefly drew national attention in March, just as Tech’s NCAA Tournament hopes peaked. Outlaw was a graduate student and a starting guard/forward in his last year with the men’s basketball team.
Heading into the Sweet 16, Outlaw had averaged 8.7 points per game and had made a team-high 78 3-pointers during the season. In Tech’s second-round NCAA Tournament win over Liberty, Outlaw had 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Then came the marijuana charge.
According to a search warrant, Rose went to the apartment that Outlaw shared with another former Hokie, Christopher Ashton Clarke, on the evening of March 20 in reference to a drug violation.
Rose reported in the warrant that she smelled “a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the residence.” But after trying for several minutes, she could not make contact with anyone in the apartment.
Rose returned the next day with a warrant and seized a white pill, two yellow capsules, an electronic vape cartridge and green plant material.
Outlaw was charged with possessing marijuana. Within days, Clarke was charged as well.
Clarke had been suspended from Tech’s basketball team on Halloween for undisclosed reasons. He is scheduled to be in court on his marijuana charge on July 11. Clarke has been reported to be transferring to Texas Tech.
The charge against Outlaw prompted uncertainty about whether he would be allowed to play in Tech’s East Region semifinal game against Duke.
Then-Tech head coach Buzz Williams said university officials decided to let Outlaw play after he passed a drug screen.
Tech lost 75-73 after missing a layup in the game’s final seconds.
Outlaw’s second drug charge has an offense date listed as April 7, about a week after Tech’s tournament loss.