RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded not guilty Thursday to dogfighting charges, and a trial date was set for November after his defense attorney asked a judge for a delay, citing the complexity of the case.
An animal rights activist protests outside the courthouse in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday.
Attorney Lawrence Woodward, in making the request of U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, noted that some of the charges against Vick involve activities outside the Eastern District of Virginia and that forensic evidence must be collected.
Under federal guidelines, prosecutors must be ready to go to trial within 70 days. Hudson set Vick's trial date for November 26.
Mickey Sherman, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the Vick case, told CNN, "This case I don't think is winnable."
If he were Vick's lawyer, "I'd be making a deal as quickly as possible," Sherman said on "CNN Newsroom." "... I would admit responsibility. I would be asking for mercy, for forgiveness, and just explaining how incredibly stupid my client was and how he's going to make amends to society by contributing a billion hours of volunteer work, his next year's NFL salary, God knows what."
But apparently, that is not the strategy Vick's attorneys are pursuing.
"I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name," Vick said through one of his lawyers, Billy Martin. Watch what the delay in trial date might mean »
At an earlier bond hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Dohnal allowed Vick to continue his release under certain conditions. He ordered Vick to surrender his passport and dog-breeding license; not travel outside the district where he lives without prior approval; and not buy or sell any dogs.
Vick also cannot violate the law -- even traffic laws -- and cannot have contact with his three co-defendants -- Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Virginia.
Dohnal said Peace, Phillips and Taylor must undergo random drug tests, but not Vick, as he has no prior convictions.
No cameras were allowed inside the courtroom during the proceedings, which began around 3:30 p.m. ET.
Curious spectators, animal rights activists and Vick supporters, who crowded around the courthouse in anticipation of his arrival, erupted into boos and cheers as he approached, wearing a coat and tie and accompanied by U.S. marshals. Vick did not acknowledge the crowd as he entered the building.
After the hearings, Vick left the courthouse to more boos and cheers, including one woman's "We love you, Michael!" He stepped into a white Ford SUV, which quickly drove off.
Moments later, Martin said his client "said in a loud and clear voice that he is not guilty of these allegations."
In his statement, Vick apologized to his mother, family and teammates for the trouble and distraction the case has caused them.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has told Vick to stay away from the Falcons' training camp while the league finishes its review of the indictment. Goodell also told the Falcons to hold off on any disciplinary action until the review is complete, team owner Arthur Blank said.
Blank called the allegations "very repulsive to all of us," adding, "It's not the young man that I've gotten to know, certainly." But he said he has not asked Vick directly whether the allegations are true.
"I felt that was part of a legal process he needs to go through," Blank said.
Several of Vick's teammates spoke about the situation after the first day's workouts ended.
Safety Lawyer Milloy said he felt bad for Blank, who has told his players they should be ambassadors to the community.
"It hurts me that it's hurting him," Milloy said. "It hurts me that it's hurting some of our fans. It's not a good situation, but we're getting through it."
Running back Warrick Dunn said Vick is "like a brother to me."
"This football team is a family, and one of our brothers is going through a situation," Dunn said. "When you have a family member who's going through something, you have to support that family member and be there for them [while] at the same time knowing that we have other guys on this team that we have to support and also push to be better on the football field. We're still going to support Mike, but right now we have to get ready for the football season."
Veteran wide receiver Joe Horn echoed Dunn's sentiment.
"No one's immune to the trials and tribulations of life. We understand that," Horn said. "My heart and my prayers go out to Mike, and I know Mike understands how we feel about him. ... But we're professionals and we get paid to do a job."
Vick and the three associates were indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges they conspired to organize bloody and vicious dogfights on a piece of property that Vick bought in 2001.
If convicted on both portions of the conspiracy charge, they each could be sentenced to up to six years in prison and fined $350,000, prosecutors said.
According to the federal indictment, dogs that didn't show enough fighting spirit, or that lost matches, were put to death by a variety of methods, including shooting, drowning, hanging and electrocution.
Prosecutors allege that on one occasion earlier this year, Vick participated in the killing of eight dogs.
Vick is one of pro football's highest-profile and highest-paid players, signing a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons in 2004. He was a standout at Virginia Tech and the first player chosen in the 2001 NFL draft.
In addition to his Falcons contract, he also has endorsement deals with several companies -- one of which, shoe giant Nike, has suspended the release of a shoe bearing the quarterback's name. E-mail to a friend
|Most Viewed||Most Emailed||Top Searches|