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Former 'American Idol 4' finalist Jessica Sierra pleads not guilty


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/03/2007 

Former American Idol fourth-season finalist Jessica Sierra is reportedly singing a song of innocence.

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The 21-year-old Tampa, FL resident pleaded not guilty in Hillsborough County Court on Monday to a felony battery charge, The Tampa Tribune reported Tuesday. 

The charges stem from an April 29 incident that saw Sierra arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility following a night of partying with friends at Hyde Park Cafe in Tampa.  The Idol 4 tenth-place finisher was arrested after police claimed she used a cocktail glass as a weapon, breaking it over Wisam Hadad's head and causing a three-quarter inch gash above his right eye after she mistakenly took him for another man who allegedly spit in her face.

The charges of possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility came when Sierra was being booked into Hillsborough County Jail following her arrest for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, as police said they discovered 0.8 grams of cocaine in her purse.

Circuit Judge William Fuente set Sierra's next trial date for October.  Sierra attorney John Fitzgibbons told The Tribune that he hoped the charges could be resolved "amicably" and stated his client has received both phone calls and letters of support from fans in the wake of her arrest.

"Just thanking all my fans for being here to support me," was the only comment Sierra gave to The Tribune as she left the courthouse, also reportedly offering a smile.

A lawsuit filed by Hadad against Hyde Park Cafe's owner as well as Sierra is pending, according to The Tribune.

Last week, Sierra found herself in additional legal trouble after she allegedly stiffed a Tampa-area car rental agency somewhere between $643.40 and $893.40 after reportedly renting a vehicle and keeping it 12 days past its due date without returning it.  Once the agency's manager filed a report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office claiming Sierra owed money for a vehicle she had not returned, she returned it and reportedly gave the excuse it was a "misunderstanding."

Fitzgibbons told The Tribune that Sierra is hoping to collect the money she owes the rental agency within the next week or two.


(Photo credit Fox)


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