LOS ANGELES Sobs broke out in the courtroom when Los Angeles
Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler sentenced Stone Temple Pilots singer
Scott Weiland to one year in jail Friday (Sept. 3).
Despite attempts by the singer's attorney, Michael Nasatir, to prove
through a series of letters and testimonials from drug counselors that
the troubled singer had turned a corner in his attempts to clean up,
Fidler was unmoved.
The singer, sporting dark hair and an orange jail-house shirt and pants
set, appeared calm. He occasionally looked at loved ones in the courtroom and smiled weakly. He appeared to get teary-eyed as he looked down at
the ground during the judge's ruling.
"I understand what you've provided," Fidler told Nasatir, "but you have
to keep in mind that the people of California have chosen that this
sickness is also a criminal activity."
Weiland was sentenced for violating his probation on an August 1998
conviction for heroin possession. The 31-year-old singer has been jailed
in the hospital ward of Los Angeles County Jail since admitting to the
violation in court on Aug. 13. If the sheriff approves, Weiland will be allowed to serve his time in the county jail's Biscaluz Treatment Center.
A crowd of more than 20, including Weiland's STP bandmates, family members
and friends, sat in the gallery during the proceeding. Several sobbed
when the judge's decision was handed down. Weiland, who has been battling
drugs for several years, appeared healthy. He glanced at the gallery
repeatedly during the half-hour proceedings.
Fidler ordered Weiland to immediately begin serving a one-year sentence
in Los Angeles County Jail. He will be given 35 days of credit for time
served over the past year. The judge ordered three years probation for
the singer following his release.
Nasatir described Weiland as "an enormously talented, personable, terrific
guy who's got an enormous problem." He argued that the singer is a sick
man and that his sickness should not be viewed as only a crime.
Deputy District Attorney Norm Montrose, arguing for the one-year sentence,
said, "basically, your honor, Mr. Weiland is on the road to killing himself.
If I were in your position, I would have run out of patience too."
STP, who have played three surprise shows since regrouping last year,
will release their fourth album, No. 4, Oct. 26. The album includes
the single "Down," which is currently receiving radio play on rock stations
in Los Angeles and New York.
A label spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the sentence or
tour plans at press time. STP guitarist Dean DeLeo, the band's manager, Steve Stewart, and Weiland's
mother, Sharon Weiland, all declined to comment on the sentence. Nasatir
and Weiland's New York lawyer Bob Kalina, who attended the hearing, also
would not comment.
Weiland has admitted in court to violating the terms of his probation
three times since his conviction. The first time was in January, following
his dismissal from the drug-rehab center Impact House for failing to
comply with the terms of their program.
After his second violation, in April, he was allowed to enter another program. That clinic kicked Weiland
out over the July 4 weekend. According to Montrose, Weiland also overdosed
on heroin around that time. The Associated Press reported that
the STP frontman was hospitalized for the overdose.
Weiland also pleaded guilty to a heroin-possession charge in New York in
February. The case stemmed from his June 1998 arrest on the afternoon
he was scheduled to perform a sold-out show in support of his solo debut,
12 Bar Blues (1998).
The arrest brought an abrupt end to the tour. His drug problems had
previously also derailed STP's plans to tour behind their most-recent
album, Tiny Music ... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, featuring
the song "Big Bang Baby" (RealAudio
(Senior Writer Gil Kaufman contributed to this report.)