A Portland attorney representing former University of Oregon football player Colt Lyerla plans to seek a judge’s permission to allow his client — who is accused of snorting cocaine in plain view of an undercover police officer in Eugene — to move to Las Vegas to train for next spring’s National Football League scouting combine and draft.
A hearing on Lyerla’s request had been scheduled for Thursday but was delayed until Dec. 17 at the earliest.
Lyerla, 21, was present Thursday in Lane County Circuit Court when his attorney, Stephen Houze, requested the postponement after learning that the prosecutor assigned to the case was not available this week.
According to documents that Houze filed with the court on Nov. 29, Lyerla wants to move from Oregon to the Las Vegas area to prepare for the combine and draft under the eye of trainer Dwight Ross. A website for Performance Athletics, where Ross works, lists dozens of professional and amateur athletes as clients.
“No comparable training program exists” in Oregon, Houze wrote in the court filings.
But at this point, Lyerla’s Las Vegas plans are blocked by a deal he made with court officials upon being freed from the Lane County Jail in late October.
The standard jail release agreement that Lyerla signed bars him from leaving Oregon while his felony cocaine possession case winds its way through the court system. A judge has the authority to change the agreement’s terms.
Houze asserted in court filings that Lyerla will return to Oregon “for all necessary court appearances” if he is allowed to move to Las Vegas to enroll in Ross’s six-days-per-week training program. Lyerla would reside at Ross’s home 25 miles outside Las Vegas and adhere to a 10 p.m. curfew, according to the documents.
Lyerla’s “whereabouts will be accounted for by Mr. Ross and his staff at all times,” Houze wrote, adding that it “will not be possible for (him) to advance his professional sports career plan without participation in this unique training program.”
Detectives with Lane County’s Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested Lyerla in Eugene on Oct. 23, about two weeks after the Lake Oswego native announced he was leaving the UO football program with plans to enter May’s NFL draft.
In documents filed with the court, Houze said Lyerla “is a highly sought-after candidate for a career in professional football.”
Some draft experts, however, have questioned how far Lyerla’s draft stock may have fallen as a result of his decision to quit the football team and his subsequent arrest. His participation in the scouting combine would allow him to try out for NFL team representatives in advance of the draft.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how long it will take for Lyerla’s criminal case to play out in court.
Following his arrest, the former Duck tight end made three appearances in the county’s Drug Court — an alternative program that gives drug offenders a chance to have their charges dismissed if they complete treatment for addiction. But after changing attorneys and losing a request for more time to consider whether to participate in the program, his case moved into Circuit Court for a potential trial.
Trials in simple drug possession cases are uncommon in Lane County. Because of budget cuts in the district attorney’s office, prosecutors often decide against filing charges against alleged drug users who are not accused of committing any other crime. Those who are charged typically enroll in Drug Court or settle their cases prior to trial.
Although Lyerla hypothetically faces the possibility of prison if convicted, he’s more likely to be sentenced to a brief jail stay or probation if found guilty of the charge, since he has no prior criminal convictions.
Lyerla’s arrest was detailed in a search warrant affidavit filed in court by a detective, who wrote that police witnessed Lyerla snort cocaine in a bank parking lot near Seventh Avenue and Polk Street in Eugene.
Rather than take him into custody at the scene, detectives agreed to follow Lyerla back to his apartment, and allowed a woman whom they had recognized from an unrelated drug investigation to drive him there, according to the affidavit.
En route to the apartment, the woman allegedly sped away from the detectives, who activated their overhead lights and tried to keep up. Lyerla allegedly got out of the car after reaching the complex and ran into an apartment. He was arrested after walking out of the residence a minute or two later, according to the affidavit.
The woman who drove Lyerla home allegedly told detectives that he had become upset and told her to get to his apartment because he had a set of scales there, the affidavit states.
OPB | Feb. 22, 2017