As jury selection begins in Brent trial, prosecutor confident about finding impartial jurors

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by MATT GOODMAN

WFAA

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 6:43 PM

DALLAS –– Jury selection in the intoxication manslaughter trial against former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent began Thursday morning. 

Jurors will be selected Friday and the trial is set to begin Monday. Attorneys will choose from a pool of 120 potential jurors, twice the standard amount. The pool was moved to the large Central Jury Room to accomadate the overflow.

The intense media coverage of the case made the selection process difficult for attorneys. At least two dozen potential jurors were dismissed after saying they had already made up their minds about the verdict. 

First Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris, the lead prosecutor in the case, said he was confident they could find an impartial jury in Dallas County. 

On December 8, 2012, Brent was leaving a northwest Dallas club with teammate and friend Jerry Brown Jr. when he flipped his 2007 Mercedes near Highway 114. Investigators found Brent hit a curb and the car flipped onto its top.  

Brent’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .189, more than twice the legal limit of .08. A police report revealed he was driving at least 110 miles-per-hour but could have reached 134 mph. 

Brown died at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Witnesses at the time reported Brown being inside the car as the engine caught fire. Brent pulled him from the vehicle, witnesses said. 

"Even if (Brent) is found not guilty, there are no winners," said defense attorney George Milner. "He's lost his best friend and his future." 

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission launched a probe into the club that served the two Cowboys, Beamers' Private Club. The investigation found "sufficient evidence" that employees served alcohol to intoxicated customers and encouraged "excessive" drinking. The TABC held off on punishing the club until after Brent's trial. 

It is standard policy for the TABC to investigate if a suspected drunken driver causes a fatal wreck after leaving a bar or club. 

The defense is expected to call active Dallas Cowboys players to testify who were with Brent and Brown at Club Privae. 

Brent's time out on bond has been dotted with controversy. He failed drug tests twice, once on May 24 and another time on June 19. A judge ordered him held without bond after the second time he tested positive for marijuana.  He was taken into custody on June 27, although a court order freed him on July 8. 

He retired from football about a week later. 

Brent has been indicted for both intoxication manslaughter and manslaughter. The second charge allows the jury to convict him in Brown's death even if they find he was not intoxicated. 

If convicted, Brent faces 20 years in prison. The trial is expected to take two weeks. 

News 8's Rebecca Lopez contributed to this report

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