Ex-Chief Johnson wants trial moved

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, facing a lawsuit for spitting a drink on a woman at a bar, asked a judge to move his trial due to his unpopularity in the city, the Kansas City Star reported Thursday.

The request was made Wednesday at a hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court, with Johnson’s lawyer, Jack T. Bangert, suggesting the trial be moved to neighboring Lafayette County, Mo.

"If we can’t get a change of venue in this case, it is insurmountable," Bangert said. "We want to go anywhere but here."

Bangert presented the judge with newspaper columns critical of the former Pro Bowler and cited examples of Kansas City sports radio hosts discussing how much the people of Kansas City disliked his client.

The plaintiff, 24-year-old Ashley N. Stewart, claims in her lawsuit that Johnson spit a drink on her and also threatened to kill her and her boyfriend at a Kansas City bar in October 2008.

Johnson, 31, received two years probation in March 2009 after pleading guilty to two counts of disturbing the peace. He was also facing charges in a Feb. 2008 incident in which he was accused of pushing a woman at a nightclub.

He had two previous arrests for alleged assaults against women in 2003 and 2005.

Stewart’s attorney, Charles Speer, doubted Bangert’s argument that Johnson would not be able to get a fair trial in Kansas City.

"We all know people in Kansas City who are not Chiefs fans who have never heard of Larry Johnson," Speer said. The judge had not yet ruled on the request.

Johnson made the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, rushing for more than 1,700 yards for the Chiefs in both seasons. The Chiefs released him in Nov. 2009 after three disappointing seasons that followed Johnson signing a six-year, $45 million contract.

Johnson was released by Washington last September and remains a free agent.