Defiantly donning a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt to her trial, WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian court on July 1 to face charges of possessing cannabis dating back to her February 19 arrest at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. The trial is taking place in Khimki City Court, also outside of Moscow.
Russian authorities claim Griner stashed "two cartridges for personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil" in her baggage.
Update: On July 7, Griner pleaded guilty to the drug possession charges. According toi state news agency RIA Novosti, "Griner told the court she had not intended to commit a crime, Speaking through an interpreter, Griner said she had not meant to carry drugs in her luggage, and it was the result of her packing in a hurry."
CNN reports: "The decision to plead guilty was made by Griner alone, a source close to her said. But in recent weeks, Griner, her family, lawyers and experts discussed this decision extensively. Given the 99% reported conviction rate in Russian criminal cases, Griner was urged to weigh all the factors, including a plea that could ultimately result in a shorter sentence."
In a letter sent to President Biden on July 3, Griner asked for his help. "I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don't forget about me and the other American detainees," the hoopster wrote. "Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.... I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home."
Griner has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013. For the last seven years, she's suited up for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg (near Siberia) in the off season. After the league took a break, Griner attempted to exit the country, but was stopped and searched by Russian Customs at bag check, and then detained. The U.S. State Department has said she's being "wrongfully detained."
The Crenshaw t-shirt Griner wore to court on July 7 referred to a Los Angeles neighborhood. It's made by Marathon Clothing, a company owned by L.A. rapper Nipsey Hussle before he was murdered in 2019.
Griner is facing a 10-year sentence, if found guilty. Another option is for her to be released in a prisoner exchange. The trial will resume July 14.