By Mike Hellgren

ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. (WJZ) — Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty Thursday to aggravated assault charges for allegedly punching and knocking out his then-girlfriend, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino elevator.

Mike Hellgren reports the running back’s lawyer says his client is sorry but not guilty.

Rice has applied for a Pretrial Intervention Program. It allows first-time offenders to have charges against them dismissed after participating and meeting certain conditions. The county prosecutor will decide whether Rice is allowed to enter the program.

If PTI is successfully completed, there is no record of conviction and he would avoid the stigma of a criminal record.

Here is more information about the Pretrial Intervention Program.

Prosecutors are expected to review Rice’s application to see if he is eligible.

If he is not accepted to program, they could move toward a plea deal.

In a plea offer from prosecutors, Rice could face probation with no jail time. He will also have to undergo anger management counseling.

Rice will be back in court May 29 at 9 a.m. for a status conference where it will be decided whether Rice will be eligible for the PTI program, the plea deal, or if the case will go to trial.

On Thursday, Rice walked into court with Palmer and his lawyer at his side.

Hellgren reports Rice told him “married life is good.”

“I’m a happy father and a happy husband,” Rice said when walking into court.  “That’s what matters.”

Rice told Palmer — who got married one day after the indictment — not to answer any questions. She would only say “talk to my lawyer.”

Palmer sat in the front row of court.

TMZ first published the video of Rice dragging a seemingly unconscious Palmer out of a Revel Casino Hotel elevator on Feb. 15. Police say the two hit each other, but Rice’s blow reportedly knocked Palmer out.

Charges against Palmer were dropped.

The prosecutor says they have other video evidence from the casino’s security cameras and would use it if the case goes to trial.

“I’m confident with the evidence we have, that I could secure a conviction at trial with or without her testimony,” said Diane Ruberton.

She says Rice’s celebrity did not figure into the case with the plea deal, though.  She says they are required to offer a plea deal with this charge.

“He’s being treated the same as any other defendant would in Atlantic County,” said Ruberton.

Rice’s lawyer told reporters Thursday it was a disagreement between Rice and his wife.  He says Rice is remorseful and acted out of his character.

“He’s very remorseful for the actions that happened that night. He loves Janay,” said Michael Diamondstein, Rice’s attorney. “What is he remorseful for?  He let himself down, he let his wife down, he let the community down.”

Rice and Palmer have reportedly been going to counseling.

“Right now, my ultimate goal is to see that justice is done and Ray gets to go in PTI and gets to go far in his life,” said Diamondstein.

The lawyer stopped short of saying what exactly happened at the casino.  He did say Rice wants to move on with his life and won’t go back to the casino.

He says he does not know who released the TMZ video.

If convicted, Rice faced three to five years in prison. Since his arrest, the team and several Ravens players have come out and shown their support for him.

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