Sloane Steven Briles, the Irvine father accused of tossing his crying 7-year-old son off a Newport Harbor cruise boat in August, will reportedly face the criminal music next month in Orange County's Veterans Court.
The 35-year-old, who was scheduled to enter a plea today in Orange County Superior Court to child endangerment and resisting arrest charges, had his case moved to the special court created in 2008 for military veterans dealing with mental-health issues.
The Orange County Register's Doug Irving reports today that the Veterans Court will hear the case in early December. The reporter cites Briles' Facebook page stating that the defendant served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines between 1995 and 2000.
On Aug. 28, Briles was aboard The Queen with his girlfriend and two young sons he had with his ex-wife when, according to prosecutors, he began poking the older boy in the chest and repeatedly slapped his face. When the lad cried and asked his allegedly intoxicated father to stop, Briles is accused of tossing the child 10 feet overboard into the drink.
The ship's first mate reportedly had to stall the engines to avoid hitting the youngster treading water in front of the vessel. Several surrounding boaters jumped in after the boy, as did Briles before, his accusers claim, he swam away.
The case became a local sensation, with Briles trying to explain away via the media that he was not drunk, that he and his son were only playing a game where the boy pretends to cry and that his child was never in danger having only been tossed into the harbor's "shallows."
The Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol, the Orange County District Attorney's office and several witnesses have begged to differ. Briles was charged with a felony child abuse and endangerment count and a misdemeanor resisting an officer count and was looking at up to six years in state prison.
He made his $100,000 bail and pleaded not guilty at his his original September arraignment hearing, which at the time was continued to today. That hearing was postponed to move the case to Veterans Court.
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The latest post on Briles' Facebook page, from mid-November, reveals he was approaching 60 days of sobriety after a Veterans Affairs treatment program "so u can call me 'sobie-wan-kenobi.'" It will be interesting to see in Veterans Court whether Briles changes his story, admits to wrongs and, like Obi-Wan, ultimately falls on his lightsaber.