SAN JOSE — Former mixed-martial arts fighter Cain Velasquez will no longer be backed in court by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, opting for a local attorney to lead his defense against attempted murder and other charges set for trial after he allegedly chased then shot at a man accused of molesting his child.
Until his preliminary examination this past fall, Velasquez had been represented by a high-profile legal team led by Geragos and partnered with San Jose-based defense attorney Renee Hessling.
Velasquez appeared in a San Jose courtroom Wednesday to affirm that Hessling alone would represent him going forward. He is scheduled to next appear in court March 8.
For most of the year, Geragos aggressively advocated for Velasquez to be released from jail custody with bail and supervision conditions, and prevailed in November after initially being rebuffed by county Superior Court Judge Shelyna Brown and the Sixth District Court of Appeal.
After the charges against Velasquez were greenlit for trial after a preliminary examination, Judge Arthur Bocanegra granted him $1 million bail and monitored release, and later approved his travel to an out-of-state wrestling event since it fell under Velasquez’s employment as a professional fighter.
Velasquez is charged with shooting at 44-year-old Harry Goularte Jr. as he traveled with his mother Patricia Goularte and his stepfather Paul Bender, who were reportedly driving him from Morgan Hill to San Jose on Feb. 28 to get fitted for an ankle monitor at a county office. Bender was wounded in the encounter, which happened after a protracted car chase.
Three days earlier, Goularte Jr. was arraigned on a felony charge of a lewd and lascivious act with a child, based on claims that he abused Velasquez’s son at a San Martin home daycare run by his mother. Goularte Jr. was granted supervised release over the objection of prosecutors.
Velasquez faces up to life in prison if he’s convicted of the charges. Geragos indicated in previous court filings that Velasquez suffered impulse control issues and brain injuries from his mixed-martial arts career, which includes two UFC heavyweight title belts while fighting out of San Jose.
Velasquez’s defense to this point suggested they would proxy litigate the sexual-assault charge against Goularte Jr., on the premise that Velasquez was taking action after the criminal-justice system failed his family. Velasquez is also suing Goularte Jr. and his parents for the alleged sexual abuse; progress of the lawsuit has been paused pending the criminal case.
Check back later for updates to this story.