Alexis Neiers wants to clear one thing up.
In fact, Neiers says she was so confident in her innocence that she had every intention of fighting the allegations during her trial, only to derail her name-clearing crusade at the last minute by agreeing to enter a no-contest plea.
So what happened?
"I thought we were going to trial and we had a great shot at this," she said. "I had been so confident because I had thought up until this point that I didn't do anything wrong."
As for what piece of information led to her flip-flop, Neiers isn't saying, though last week's word that Bloom planned to face off against her in court wasn't the best news she's ever received.
"I think the fact that Orlando Bloom [would testify], and the weight of a celeb testifying against Alexis, made us realize the odds were stacked against us," her lawyer, Jeffrey Rubenstein, said yesterday. "This was a last-minute decision. We were ready for trial."
Whether or not it was the potential showdown with the Lord of the Rings star, Neiers does acknowledge there was "one deciding factor" that proved a game changer.
"The table turned instantly. I knew if I went to trial my chances would be slim. I feel like I've been fighting for so long, to give up would be the hardest decision."
But give up she finally did, agreeing to a plea deal that included a six-month jail sentence, three years' probation and restitution of up to $600,000. If she had been convicted of the felony rap, she would have faced up to six years in state prison.
With her trial now unnecessary, the 18-year-old no longer has plans to defend herself.
"No one knows my truth, no one knows my side of the story yet," she said. "I've made the decision not to release it. I made the decision that, yes, if I went to trial, that I would go there and go hard and share my truth.
"Facing six years is a scary thing, but I knew my truth, I knew I would fight for it. Unfortunately, I didn't have that opportunity, and I had to make the best decision for myself."
Neiers said she's only ever wanted to help people.
"My goal, from day one…It's hard. It's hard. I feel like at the end of the day, my only intention ever was to help. It's been my intention through all of this."
As for Neiers' future, or at least her future up to June 24, when she will begin her jail sentence, she said she will use her story to educate any would-be celeb burglars as to the error of their ways.
So, potentially a niche market, but one which Neiers pretty much has covered.
"I've already made the decision. I am going back to being the real me and just trying to enjoy every day that I have, and I am not going to take anything for granted. And my goal now is to help people stay out of trouble and realize what consequences will happen out of a bad situation."
"I keep telling myself, 'If Buddha can sit under a tree for four days and meditate, I can do this,'" she said, drawing a well-meaning if not exactly apt comparison.
"You go into this thinking, 'I may only serve 30 percent of the time,' or whatever, but I could end up serving a full six months. I want to prepare myself mentally as best as I can."
Still, as frightening as her jail stint may be now, Neiers is ready.
"I'm going to walk into that courtroom with my head held high and do the right thing."
(Originally published May 11, 2010, at 12:58 p.m. PT)
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