By Steve Barnes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Former world middleweight boxing champion Jermain Taylor on Tuesday entered guilty pleas in an Arkansas state court to felony charges stemming from three separate cases and is set to face sentencing in April 2016, court officials said.
Taylor, 37, had earlier indicated he would contest the charges, which include shooting and wounding a cousin in 2014 near the boxer's home in suburban Little Rock.
Taylor pleaded guilty to nine counts, each of which is a D-class felony under Arkansas law. Each count is punishable by zero to six years in prison, prosecutors said.
"The outcome is satisfactory to the state. The amendments to the original charges were relatively minor," said John Johnson, a deputy prosecuting attorney.
In January, Taylor was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a pistol to threaten a family member during a Martin Luther King, Jr Day parade in Little Rock, and in July was charged with battery for assaulting a man at a Little Rock substance abuse treatment center.
In exchange for Taylor's guilty plea, the state dropped a child endangerment enhancement count in the January incident and reduced in severity the charge arising from the July episode.
Taylor has offered repeated apologies for his erratic behavior in recent years. He has also vowed to resume his career in the ring and was granted permission on Tuesday by state court judge Leon Johnson to leave the state for training.
Following a court-ordered examination, a state psychiatrist testified in February that Taylor needed psychiatric care and should be monitored for substance abuse in lieu of incarceration.
Taylor was scheduled to defend his title in April, but citing his legal and medical difficulties, the International Boxing Federation declared the middleweight championship vacant.
Taylor had regained the title in 2014 while free on bond and awaiting trial for the incident involving his cousin.
The boxer won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics and seized the world middleweight belt in 2005 against Bernard Hopkins. Taylor abandoned competition in 2009 following a brain injury sustained in the ring, but launched a comeback in 2011.
(Reporting by Steve Barnes; editing by Jon Herskovitz, David Gregorio and G Crosse)