Former 'Idol 4' finalist Jessica Sierra's trial postponed due to rehab
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/30/2007
Jessica Sierra's upcoming trial has been delayed due to the former American Idol fourth-season finalist's decision to enter a lengthy rehab program.
The 21-year-old Tampa, FL resident didn't attend a Wednesday procedural hearing in Hillsborough Circuit Court on battery and drug charges and saw the start of her trial postponed because she's been in a California drug and alcohol rehabilitation program since July, The St. Petersburg Timesreported.
"Hopefully [rehab] will be something that both the court and the state will take into consideration, that shows that she's trying to get some help, that she's taking the initiative, and I think most courts view positively efforts by defendants to help themselves in this manner," Sierra's lawyer John Fitzgibbons told Tampa Bay's WTVT-TV Fox affiliate.
Sierra was arrested in April 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 4tenth-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. She pleaded not guilty to the charges in early July.
While he wouldn't elaborate on the exact nature of Sierra's problems that caused her to enter rehab, Fitzgibbons told The Times "it's a comprehensive program that covers drug and alcohol abuse and other issues," adding she "would probably be there several more months."
"I believe this is in her best interest," Fitzgibbons told The Times.
Judge Gregory Holder rescheduled Sierra's October trial for November 26, according to Tampa Bay's WFTS-TV ABC affiliate.
Sierra had found herself in additional legal trouble in June 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."
Sierra has since settled the monetary dispute with the agency and the case against her was subsequently dropped, according to WTVT.