Ex-CFLer Ledbetter surrenders to cops

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:18 PM ET

Cody Ledbetter, the former CFL quarterback on the run from Texas authorities and hiding out in Ottawa for nearly a year, turned himself into police around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

He hired one of the city's top criminal defence attorneys, Mark Ertel, who said Ledbetter "always had the intention of turning himself in without any incident or confrontation with police."

Ledbetter was escorted by a single police officer, hands cuffed in front of him, from Ertel's Elgin St. law office to police headquarters, where he remains in custody pending a court appearance Thursday.

In his home state Texas, the former Hamilton Tiger-Cat is listed as one of Johnson County's most wanted fugitives. He fled the country in September and has been hiding out in Ottawa after breaking conditions of a ten year probation sentence he was handed in 2005 for having an "improper relationship" with a 16-year-old female student while he was a football coach at Alvarado High School.

The Johnson County District Attorney's office has prepared an extradition order, and if he's sent back to Texas, he could face five to 99 years in prison for each count, according to Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford.

Ertel called the proposed sentence "outrageous," and suggested he would fight any extradition order.

Ertel said the crimes that Ledbetter pleaded guilty to in Texas are not considered a criminal offence in Canada, since the student in question was 16, over the age of consent in Canada, at the time of the relationship.

"If that offence is not an offence known to Canadian law and they're trying to incarcerate him, he's understandably not in a hurry to surrender (to U.S. authorities)," said Ertel.

"Having been involved in the criminal justice system in Texas if you can call it a criminal justice system he's understandably apprehensive about being returned there (to face further prosecution)."

Ertel called the Texas penal system "one of the most unenlightened systems in a free society," with a reputation for "overcrowding and violence" in prisons, and he believed Canadian courts would take that into consideration.

American authorities now have 60 days to draft an extradition order.

In the meantime, Ledbetter will make his first appearance in a Canadian courtroom today, facing charges of domestic assault form the Saturday incident which first drew the attention of Ottawa police.

"He's anxious to establish that he's not guilty of the partner assault allegations that were made to police," said Ertel. "He has a 14-stitch cut on his hand, so it reasonable to believe there's more than one version of events from that incident as well."

Ertel suggested that Ledbetter would be "a good candidate" for bail.

"He has many acquaintances in Ottawa, he has support in the community and across the country," said Ertel.


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