LOS ANGELES -- Legally speaking, Stone Temple Pilots frontman and solo singer Scott Weiland has been "on the run" since 9:15 a.m. Thursday (July 9).
That was the time when he was scheduled to appear in the Los Angeles County Superior Court for a pre-trial conference regarding charges of heroin and hypodermic needle possession that were filed against him in February.
While Weiland did not make the hearing, he did make it to the courthouse in time to hear about the warrant for his arrest.
"There won't be a bench warrant as soon as I go in there," Weiland said as he stood outside the courthouse building that morning, appearing unshaven and disheveled in sunglasses, a pimp-like, black-and-white pinstriped suit and a red shirt.
The singer had arrived there just before 11 a.m., not even an hour after Los Angeles Country Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler issued a bench warrant for his arrest and set bail for $250,000. Though he welcomed questions, Weiland responded with quick, terse answers as he nervously looked around and puffed on his cigarette.
"I think as long as I take care of myself, I don't have to worry about it," he said, looking down and scratching his right foot against the pavement. "I don't think anybody wants to see someone go to jail who's trying to take care of his situation."
By all accounts, Weiland never did go into the courthouse. After talking about his rehab and future recording plans, the rocker began taking backward steps away from the court building doors.
As far as police and court officials are concerned, he hasn't been seen since.
"They're going to arrest him as soon as he walks into that court," District Attorney Penny Schneider said. "I'm not going to wait around all day for him to show up."
Since Fidler issued the warrant, information about the case and a description of Weiland have gone out on police computers across the country. A spokesperson at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office said it's unlikely Weiland will be picked up because of the warrant, given the nature of his charges and because he is not considered a high-risk criminal.
The singer has the option of turning himself into the court or a police agency, after which he can be released if he posts the $250,000 bail. However, Fidler may require a bail hearing first, during which he may raise or lower the amount for Weiland's release or revoke the bail option entirely.
"A lot of it depends on what his excuse is," Schneider said. "He's got to have a damn good reason [for missing the hearing]."
The district attorney added that Weiland's failure to appear at the scheduled time and the subsequent bench warrant will not affect his punishment for the drug charges if he is convicted.
This is the second court appearance the singer has missed in less than a month. He did not show up for his first hearing June 11 because he was in a treatment center.
Weiland, who has battled drug problems over the last five years and was most recently arrested June 1 in New York on a separate heroin possession charge, said that he is currently undergoing rehab but would not say where. The singer said that, in light of his efforts to help himself, he wasn't too concerned about facing a maximum punishment of three years in jail if convicted of the drug charges.
Michael Nasatir, Weiland's lawyer, did not return calls regarding his client's whereabouts Thursday afternoon (July 9). He had no comment in the courtroom that morning, outside of his brief discussion with Fidler.
Nasatir, who also represented actor Robert Downey Jr. in his recent drug trial, seemed to be looking for Weiland when he poked his head in the courtroom at about 9:15 a.m. Returning at about 10 a.m., Nasatir told the judge he did not know why his client was not present. "You can surrender him, and it will make his life a lot easier," Fidler said, responding to Nasatir. The lawyer then agreed to look for his client and encourage him to turn himself in.
Weiland did not contact Nasatir before showing up outside the court building, according to a courtroom clerk who had called Nasatir's office after hearing that the singer had been seen outside.
Weiland is ineligible for a diversion program for the drug charges because he already completed a 24-month program last year, stemming from a 1995 arrest for cocaine and heroin possession. That case, filed in Pasadena, was dismissed after he completed the program.
The singer's most recent arrest in New York resulted in the cancellation of the remaining four dates of his first solo tour to support his debut solo album, 12 Bar Blues, which features the single, "Barbarella" (RealAudio excerpt). His drug problems in 1995 also precipitated the cancellation of a Stone Temple Pilots tour.