After being arrested in February on attempted murder charges, ex-UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez was granted a continuance until May 6 for a plea hearing. Velasquez stood in front of a packed courtroom on Tuesday.
He turned toward the gallery after the continuance and made a heart gesture with his hands for those who expressed support during the hearing. Daniel Cormier, a long-time buddy and teammate, and Javier Mendez, the head coach of the American Kickboxing Academy, were reportedly in the audience at the hearing. Velasquez was represented by Mark Geragos, who filed the motion for a continuance with Judge Jose Franco, which was granted.
According to sources, Velasquez was detained on Feb. 28 after reportedly engaging in an 11-mile high-speed chase and firing multiple rounds from a.40 calibre revolver in pursuit of a vehicle transporting Harry Goularte, who is accused of abusing a close relative of the former UFC heavyweight champion. Despite the district attorney’s concerns, Goularte was released on bond in his own court case.
Velasquez allegedly pursued Goularte from his home after his release, firing six shots at the vehicle. Goularte’s stepfather was injured by a bullet and sent to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries sustained during the incident. Velasquez was eventually apprehended without incident and charged with attempted, premeditated murder.
Velasquez’s first court appearance was on Tuesday, after Judge Shelyna Brown refused him bail during his initial arraignment in March, calling his acts “grave carelessness to human life.” Velasquez made his first public remark since the alleged shooting and his subsequent arrest on Tuesday. “My family and I will never be able to convey our gratitude enough to everyone who has voiced their support,” Velasquez wrote in the statement.
According to sources, Velasquez has gotten a flood of support from the MMA community since his arrest, including letters from UFC President Dana White and others sent to the judge supervising the case prior to his arraignment in March. Velasquez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of all charges.