Sentencing date set for Larson

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It appears the long, legal saga of Florida redshirt freshman big man Cody Larson will stretch into the 2011-12 men’s basketball season.

A sentencing date of Oct. 31 has been set for Larson on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges stemming from his April arrest for allegedly trying to break into a car in St. Augustine.

Larson’s attorney, Anne Marie Gennusa, appeared at a pretrail hearing on Larson’s behalf on Tuesday at St. Johns County circuit court. It is unclear if she changed Larson’s not guilty plea. Gennusa did not return repeated calls seeking comment. State Attorney spokesperson Shannon Peters said no change of plea forms were filed on Tuesday.

Andy Owens, a former Florida basketball standout from 1968-70 who is now a circuit court judge in Sarasota, said it is common for a judge to set a sentencing date after sides reach a plea agreement.

“Typically, the defendant would enter his plea on the day of sentencing,” Owens said

Owens said it also is possible for the defendant to enter an open plea,  in which sentencing would be based on the discretion of the trial court.

Larson and teammate Erik Murphy have been suspended indefinitely since their arrest on April 10 on felony burglary charges. In May, charges were reduced to misdemeanor criminal trespass. Murphy accepted a plea in July in which he paid $440 in restitution, performed 50 hours of community service and completed a substance abuse evaluation program. In addition, Murphy cannot consume alcohol or any other controlled substances until July of 2012.

Florida coach Billy Donovan has previously said he would not make a decision to re-instate Murphy or Larson until the legal process is resolved. But Donovan has yet to announce Murphy’s status close to two months after his plea deal.

Individual drills for Florida basketball begin this week and practice starts Oct. 15.

Complicating matters for Larson is his probation status stemming from a 2010 misdemeanor drug arrest in Sioux Falls, S.D.,  for sharing prescription medication with a former high school teammate. South Dakota prosecutors say they intend to wait for the legal process to finish in St. Johns County before determining if Larson violated terms of his probation.

The 6-foot-10 Larson and 6-9 Murphy were being counted on to bolster a Florida frontline that lost all three of its starters to graduation. Larson red-shirted last season, but former UF assistant Larry Shyatt said that the 230-pound Larson was one of the team’s most physical players in practice.