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October 9, 2013
Aldon Smith to face weapons charges, to surrender this month


One day before the 49ers played the Cardinals in 2011, Aldon Smith purchased rifles in the gun-friendly state of Arizona. Bringing them back to California has added to the embattled linebacker's long list of problems.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Wednesday filed three felony counts of illegal possession of assault weapons, which were found at his home in the aftermath of a raucous 2012 party that ended with Smith stabbed and two men shot.

Five weapons belonging to Smith were discovered when authorities arrived, including a .45-caliber handgun both Smith and former teammate Delanie Walker allegedly fired to try to disperse the crowd. None of the weapons was registered with the state Department of Justice. The three semi-automatic rifles were determined to be illegal in California.

In a statement, district attorney Jeff Rosen said that Smith's weapons have such a high capacity for killing that it outweighs their use as recreational firearms. "California's prohibition of these powerful weapons is not about hunting or target practice," Rosen said, "It is about interrupting the long history of death, carnage and grief assault weapons have inflicted on California communities."

Investigators said the danger posed by the guns was underscored when one of the party goers snuck into Smith's bedroom, grabbed one of the rifles and began carrying it around the house.

Deputy district attorney Brian Buckelew said Smith faces up to four years and four months in county jail if convicted. He said Smith is expected to surrender later this month at which time he can post bail. An initial court date would be scheduled at that time.

Smith currently is in an in-patient treatment facility after crashing his car and being arrested for DUI on Sept. 20. It was his second DUI arrest in as many years.

Investigators said Smith purchased three of the illegal rifles in Arizona, two of them the day before the 49ers played the Cardinals on Dec. 11, 2011. Smith, who has led the 49ers in sacks in each of the last two seasons, forced a fumble and had four tackles in that game, a 21-19 loss.

"We've been aware of the incident, the serious nature of it. We're all accountable for our actions, good and bad," Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. "There's a process, due process, that will take place. I don't feel any need to comment further on it." Pressed on whether Smith, 24, would play again this season, Harbaugh repeated that he wouldn't comment further on the matter.

The NFL already is looking into Smith's DUI arrests and is expected suspend the linebacker. The gun charges only add to the matter. The league typically does not suspend a player until the legal process is complete. That means discipline may be dispensed until next season.
Meanwhile, Smith's legal woes are piling up.

The two men shot at Smith's house have filed civil suits against Smith and Walker, who allegedly fired shots to disperse the party goers. Neither of the victims was shot by Smith or Walker, authorities determined.

Smith also has been formally charged for last month's DUI incident in which he allegedly drove his pickup truck through a residential front yard and crashed against a tree. Smith faces two misdemeanor DUI charges - one because he allegedly had a .15 blood-alcohol level, which is nearly twice the legal limit. Charges in the other DUI incident, in Miami Beach in January 2012, were reduced to reckless driving.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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