ST. LOUIS -- The stakes are high as St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little goes to trial today on a persistent offender charge for felony driving while intoxicated.
Little, 30, was arrested April 24 on Interstate 64 in the St. Louis suburb Ladue and charged with speeding and DWI. Police say he failed three field sobriety tests. No one was injured. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Little was charged as a persistent offender because he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a 1998 drunken-driving accident in downtown St. Louis that killed Susan Gutweiler of St. Louis County.
Little served three months in jail and completed 1,000 hours of community service and four years of probation for the earlier crime. He was also suspended without pay for the first half of the 1999 season.
If convicted of the DWI charge, Little could face up to four years in prison along with another suspension from the NFL.
Jury selection is expected to begin this morning, with a pool of 80 potential jurors called, larger than the standard 36, according to Circuit Judge Emmett O'Brien's office.
Don Schneider, a spokesman for St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, said jury selection could take a couple of days, and the trial could take a week.
O'Brien has not issued a gag order, but previously said the prosecution and defense had agreed not to talk about the case until it goes to trial. The prosecutor handling the case, Mark Bishop, and defense attorney Scott Rosenblum did not return calls seeking comment.
Little had 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks and recovered four fumbles last season. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2003.