A judge rejected a plea deal Wednesday that would have kept a former standout high school athlete from state prison.
Jalen Busby, who was an All-Sonoma County League football player and All-Empire basketball star who was voted the best player in the league while playing for Elsie Allen High School last year, faces a felony charge of burglary stemming from an incident on Jan. 27 at a home in Santa Rosa.
Busby, 18, and with no adult criminal record, had entered a plea of no contest to the charge. He appeared at a presentencing hearing Wednesday after his attorney and prosecutors negotiated a deal that could have required a stint in county jail and probation, but kept him from state prison.
But Sonoma County Superior County Judge Arthur Wick declared the deal “unacceptable to the court,” adding that Busby should go to state prison if he’s guilty.
Busby, who was visibly shaken, then was allowed to withdraw his no contest plea. After conferring briefly with his attorney, Barry McBride, Busby told Wick, in a voice barely above a whisper, that he changed his plea to “not guilty.”
McBride declined to comment immediately after the deal was rejected. Busby, who was accompanied in court by his mother, also declined to comment.
Busby was a celebrated leader on the Lobos basketball team that went 11-1 in the Sonoma County League in 2014-15, becoming the first Elsie Allen team in 16 years to win a league title.
A court date is set for Monday to set a preliminary hearing date.
Busby remains free on bail.
You can reach Staff Columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”