CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Carolina Panthers' defensive end Greg Hardy has arrived at a Mecklenburg County courthouse to face charges of assaulting a female and communicating threats after he's accused of attacking his then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, inside his uptown Charlotte condo last May.
Hardy is facing a judge for a second time on the charges after he was found guilty in a bench trial in July. He immediately appealed and requested the case be heard before a jury in Superior Court.
In North Carolina, defendants convicted in District Court have a right to a jury trial in Superior Court. Under state law, Greg Hardy's earlier conviction has been wiped away.
Before Hardy arrived, he tweeted out a giveaway to his "real" fans, saying if anyone "can tell me my favorite color, my favorite president, and my favorite NBA player I am prepared to hand over the original snitch cleats. 2 outta of (sic) three will get u signed replica of (sic) no one gets it by 11 pm kraken out."
Everything starts fresh Monday before Superior Court Judge Robert Sumner of Gaston County. But the trial is not expected to start immediately.
Before the prosecutors and defense attorneys can begin their search for a fair jury, there could be several motions that need to be heard by Judge Sumner ahead of the trial.
One of the biggest, the amount of coverage media will be allowed during the trial.
Judge Sumner will have to rule whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom. The trial will attract national interest as the NFL faces backlash over players being accused of domestic violence.
In 2014, two other players faced nationwide scrutiny over domestic violence charges.
Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens after a video showed the running back knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator. Rice spent the year on the league's suspension list. Last month, Rice and his former team settled his $3.5 million lawsuit for back pay. He also persuaded a federal court to overturn the NFL's indefinite suspension and hopes to sign with a new team in the coming months.
Last September, a grand jury in Texas indicted star running back Adrian Peterson, of the Minnesota Vikings, on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. Peterson is accused of beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, leaving the boy bruised and bleeding from his ankles to up his back. He remains suspended by the league. On Friday, a federal judge agreed to consider his lawsuit challenging his suspension.
Once motions have been settled in the Hardy case, the task of finding a jury will take place.
It could take more time than usual for attorneys to find 12 jurors and two alternates who haven't already formed opinions on the case.
Educated guesses from legal experts across the city vary from a day or two to far longer. "Better part of a week," Richard Boner, a recently retired Mecklenburg judge with more than 25 years on the bench, told The Charlotte Observer. "(Defense attorney Chris) Fialko and the district attorney are going to be very, very careful."
"You can try to smoke them out, but if somebody wants to get on that jury bad enough, they aren't going to be honest with their answers," Boner says. "It's not a perfect system. But we have to live with it."
During Hardy's first trial, Nicole Holder took the stand, saying he attacked her multiple times, threw her on a stash of guns and threatened to kill her. Holder previously told investigators that Hardy dragged her across the floor into the bedroom, where he choked her with both hands.
Hardy claimed he was the one attacked by Holder, saying she refused to leave his apartment. In a recorded 911 call, Hardy is heard asking for help to remove her from his home.
"My friend brought a girl home. She won't get out. We're trying to get her out of my house," he told operators. "She keeps running back in every time. My neighbor outside just witnessed everything."
"She's refusing to leave, she told me to break her arm when I asked her to leave," Hardy said. "What should I do? Should I leave? What should I do? She's like, she's very crazy."
In a separate 911 call, a neighbor who lives below Hardy called in after a woman came to his door.
"He is beating her [expletive] right the [expletive] now. So get here now," she urged. "I was in the apartment, he's beating her [expletive]."
After the trial, the 26-year-old was suspended from the Carolina Panthers for all but one game in 2014. In September, the team announced that Hardy would take a voluntary leave of absence with pay until his legal proceedings were resolved.
Hardy was placed on the NFL's Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List, which is a special player status available to teams only in unusual circumstances.
During the 2014 season, the Panthers continued to pay Hardy $13.1 million.
Hardy's appeal was expected to be heard in November, but the trial was later postponed until 2015.