Ex-Cowboys player guilty of intoxication manslaughter in teammate's death

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

WFAA

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 5:36 PM

DALLAS — Retired Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the death of friend and teammate Jerry Brown Jr. Wednesday afternoon. 

Brent, 25, sat alone while waiting to hear the verdict. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins was present as the former nose tackle was taken into custody in the courtroom. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The sentencing phase of the trial is set to begin Thursday. 

The jury received the case Tuesday and deliberated for about three-and-a-half hours, but were sequestered after they couldn’t reach a verdict. They signaled that they had a verdict at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. 

Brent and Brown left a northwest Dallas club in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 2012. Brent soon hit a curb off State Highway 114 at a high rate of speed and flipped his Mercedes. It caught fire with Brown inside. Brent pulled his friend from the car, witnesses said, but first responders testified that he was dead upon their arrival. 

Brent’s blood alcohol content taken after the crash was .189, more than twice the legal limit of .08. The defense’s argument attempted to pin the accident on how fast Brent was driving. George Milner, Brent’s attorney, argued that Brent was not drunk at the time of the crash and tried to make the jurors doubt the accuracy of the blood testing proces. 

Milner reminded the jury that the state has the burden of proof, not the defense. Brent was driving too fast –– an accident investigator testified the car was likely going 110 miles-per-hour in a 45 mph zone –– but he was not intoxicated, Milner argued. 

But Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris rebuffed the defense’s argument. He and fellow prosecutor Jason Hermus played footage of Brent failing a field sobriety test. The arresting officer told the court Brent became agitated when he was asked to submit a breath sample to test for the presence of alcohol. 

They said the 25-year-old was an “experienced drinker” and a liar, pointing to his telling police outside the scene of the crash that he had five drinks that night. The forensic toxicologist that tested his blood sample testified it would take 17 drinks for a man of his size to have a .189 BAC. 

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