Saying he was doing the best thing for the citizens of Santa Clara County - and himself - famed former motorcycle stuntman Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel pleaded no contest Friday to a criminal charge of being an exfelon possessing a concealable firearm.
The plea capped a bizarre series of events that started with his Oct. 9 arrest in Sunnyvale for allegedly battering his 25-year-old girlfriend. That case was dropped, but in the process police searched his car and discovered a cache of guns and knives, triggering the weapons charge.
Knievel has said he carries the weapons for his and his girlfriend’s protection, fearing for his safety after the 1993 murder of Michael Jordan’s father at a rest stop in South Carolina.
“It’s a tough law,” the 56-year-old told Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William F. Martin of rules barring felons from carrying weapons, but “I feel (the case) been done in a very fair manner.”
Knievel has agreed to perform 200 hours of community service work, teaching children the importance of wearing bicycle helmets, said Martin. At least half the time must be performed in Santa Clara County, the judge told the part-time Florida resident.
Knievel also may be fined at least $200 when he is formally sentenced in early December.
The former stuntman visits the South Bay regularly to see friends. It was during one such trip last fall that he ran afoul of the law in Sunnyvale.
Knievel said he has permits to carry weapons in other states, had taken care to store the weapons and ammunition separately, and was angered by the actions of the Sunnyvale police.
“It’s tough for me to give up under these circumstances,” he admitted after the brief hearing. “It’s like pleading guilty. But ignorance of the law is no excuse…I’m doing this for the people of this country.”
At Knievel’s side Friday was girlfriend Krystal Kennedy, who has staunchly maintained that he did not beat her.