by Susan Spencer-Wendel

WEST PALM BEACH – Former All-Star pitcher JEFF REARDON made his first appearance in a county courtroom Friday to face the charge of robbery after a jewelry store holdup late last year.

A judge scheduled the retired baseball player for a non-jury trial on 28 August, setting aside only an hour for the case.

A defense attorney for Reardon said he will ask Circuit Judge Stephen Rapp to consider the reports of at least four experts hired by both prosecutors and defense who have examined Reardon's condition at the time of the crime.

Mitchell Beers says Reardon was taking a dozen medications, which, combined, drove the 50-year-old out of his mind. "They created a demon. It's unbelievable," Beers said.

Reardon suffered profound depression after the fatal drug overdose of his son in 2004. He took a variety of drugs to combat that, plus a sedative, an antipsychotic to stabilize moods, then a host of drugs for a heart condition, Beers said. Reardon underwent angioplasty two weeks before the robbery.

Reardon was one of the best relief pitchers in major league history, ranking sixth all-time on the list for saves. He played his final game in 1994.

A day after Christmas 2005, Reardon walked into a jewelry store at The Gardens Mall and handed over a note:
" I have a gun. Please place $100 bills and jewelry in bag and no one will get hurt. Thank you." The clerk handed over some cash. Palm Beach Gardens police arrested Reardon in the parking lot shortly after.

According to police records, Reardon immediately admitted robbing the store and told police he was " out of his mind." Reardon faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison but would likely face far less if convicted. "We don't expect anything like that, realistically," his attorney said. Reardon's will be an unusual " voluntary intoxication " defense.

Florida lawmakers outlawed the defense years ago, but Beers said the law still allows for a person to claim it for prescription drugs taken in appropriate amounts. Reardon, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, is coaching baseball for 16-year-olds. He declined to comment to media outside the courtroom Friday, saying he wants to wait until after his verdict.

Major League Baseball – 21 August 2006

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