Josh Brent, 25, the retired Dallas Cowboys’ defensive lineman, received a guilty verdict for the intoxicated manslaughter of teammate and friend Jerry Brown after deliberations that lasted two days.
Jury deliberations continued at 9 a.m. CT after deliberations lasted two and a half hours on Tuesday. Since the jury could not reach a decision, they were sequestered for the night and reconvened Wednesday morning.
Brent was charged with drunk driving during the early hours of December 8, 2012, after crashing his Mercedes, killing the passenger, Brown. Brent’s defense argued the prosecution was not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt his client was intoxicated. Brent’s attorney, George Milner, stated his client was guilty of being dumb behind the wheel, but not drinking ahead of time.
Meanwhile, the prosecution pointed out Brent’s blood alcohol level was .189 when the crash occurred, indicating Brent had been drinking before the crash.
Brent was emotionless when he received the guilty verdict for intoxicated manslaughter. He was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom in front of his distraught family members who were in attendance for the court’s decision. Brent faces up to twenty years in prison or possibly probation.
Even though it has been a year since Brent retired from the NFL, his strong ties to the Dallas Cowboys were evident at the trial. Danny McCray and Barry Church, two current Cowboy players, testified about the time they spent with Brown and Brent, playing video games and then going out for dinner followed by a trip to a Dallas nightclub, Private.
Jurors were allowed to see a video displaying Brent holding bottles of champagne in both hands, along with credit card receipts indicating Brent had recently purchased the three bottles of champagne. The video also showed police dash camera footage of Brent becoming off balance during a sobriety test followed by Brent slurring his word while speaking with police officers.
Brent’s case now proceeds to sentencing. Milner stated Brent should receive probation, moreover, Stacey Jackson, Brown’s mother, stated she has forgiven Brent and may testify on Brent’s behalf during sentencing.
Prosecutors, however, have alluded to a push for prison time instead of probation. Prosecutors want to send a message about the severity of intoxication manslaughter and they may use Brent as their messenger.
Brent’s conviction came just weeks after a heated debate erupted surrounding the Texas teenager, Ethan Couch, who was given probation for the intoxication manslaughter wreck that killed four people and the “affluenza” approach his defense attorneys took, stating Couch’s wealthy lifestyle was to blame for his behavior. This approach opened up the case to intense scrutiny and sweeping criticism.
Craig Watkins, Dallas County District Attorney, attended segments of Brent’s trail and would whisper into the prosecutors’ ears while they were questioning one witness. In an interview with a sports radio station, Watkins reported it was his job to insure Brent lost his freedom.
As a defensive tackle, Brent played in all twelve games in the 2012 season before the collision. He retired from the NFL in July. Now Brent faces up to twenty years in prison for his guilty verdict for intoxicated manslaughter.
By Deborah Baran