EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) – San Diego high school basketball star Mikey Williams pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple felony counts of assault with a firearm and shooting at an occupied vehicle.
Through his attorney, the 18-year-old Williams made his plea to the charges against him. The high school hoops standout attended the hearing virtually, with his attorney Troy Owens citing security concerns as the reason.
“There were several concerns shared by the prosecutor and I about the publicity and also Mr. Williams’ safety. I can't discuss the specifics of those threats, but there have been numerous threats made online that gave us concerns for his safety,” Owens said.
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San Diego County Deputy District Attorney George Modlin said it’s not unusual for a defendant to appear before a judge virtually, something that started during the pandemic.
“He's not getting any special treatment or being treated any harsher than any other individual,” Modlin said.
Williams is accused of involvement in a shooting that took place outside of his Jamul home on March 27.
The San Ysidro High School senior was arrested on April 13 on multiple felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was released several hours after his arrest after posting $50,000 bail.
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San Diego County sheriff’s officials said Williams’ arrest stems from an argument that took place at his home on Bratton Valley Road in the late evening hours of March 27.
Officials said after the argument, a car was leaving the property when gunshots were fired towards the vehicle. Five people -- three of them minors -- were inside the car, but no one was hit by gunfire.
On April 13, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Williams’ home and arrested him.
During the arraignment Thursday morning, the prosecutor asked the judge for protective orders for five individuals. He did not elaborate how they are connected to the charges.
The judge also reminded Williams that while out on bail, he’s not allowed to have contact with those individuals, and he cannot have possession of firearms or ammunition.
Williams faces up to 28 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.
Williams is one of the name, image and likeness era's earliest stars, securing a multiyear deal with shoe and athletic apparel maker Puma for an undisclosed amount in 2021. He has millions of followers across his social media platforms and On3.com estimates his NIL valuation at $3.6 million.
Williams has committed to playing college basketball at the University of Memphis next season.
Former NBA All-Star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, who is the head coach of the University of Memphis men's basketball team, declined to comment to the Memphis Commercial Appeal earlier this week regarding Williams' case, but said "I'm going to continue to recruit ... as of right now, Mikey is still with us."
Williams has a preliminary hearing scheduled in June. He will be required to attend that hearing either in-person or virtually.
City News Service contributed to this report