NFL Cowboys' Brent trial rests, jury weighs drink count question

by Reuters
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 18:42 GMT

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Lawyers defending former Cowboys football player Josh Brent in his intoxication manslaughter trial argued in closing statements that he was reckless but not drunk, clashing with prosecutors who said the NFL player was intoxicated when he caused a fatal crash.

In closing statements on Tuesday, prosecutors described Brent as "the poster child for intoxication manslaughter" when he flipped his Mercedes after a night of heavy drinking at a private club in a single-car crash on Dec. 8, 2012, that killed teammate Jerry Brown Jr.

If convicted of intoxication manslaughter, Brent, 25, could face up to 20 years in prison.

As the jury left to begin deliberations, Brown's mother hugged Brent and wept.

Prosecutors on Tuesday played a video taken from a police car's dashboard camera that showed Brent failing a series of field sobriety tests shortly after the crash.

"Ladies and gentleman, in order for you to not believe he wasn't intoxicated, you have to not believe your own eyes and your own ears," prosecutor Jason Hermus told the court.

Brent's blood alcohol level was 0.189, according to police documents. The legal limit in Texas is 0.08.

Toxicologist Justin Schwane, called last week as an expert witness by the prosecution, said he tested three vials of Brent's blood taken at the time of his arrest and found the former National Football League player had been drinking heavily.

Based on blood alcohol calculations for a person as large as the defensive lineman, Brent likely consumed 17 standard size drinks that evening, he said.

Defense attorney Deandra Grant said there was no way that Brent had that much to drink.

"They want you to believe he had 17 drinks completely absorbed in his body. More than 17. That's not slightly impaired, that's commode hugging drunk," Grant said in closing arguments.

The defense called witnesses who said Brent appeared to be fine after a night of drinking with teammates at a private Dallas area club and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

"At 110 mph, that accident is going to happen. Alcohol ain't got nothing to do with that," defense attorney George Milner told the court.

Brent was put on leave from the Cowboys after the accident and retired in July. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Richard Chang)

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