DALLAS –– The Irving police officer who was first on the scene of a violent crash that killed Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown Jr. testified Monday about the actions of the driver, teammate Josh Brent.
Ofc. Kevin Palms told the court that he arrived to find Brent pulling Brown from a burning 2007 Mercedes Benz in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 2012.
Brent was driving the car at a high rate of speed when it struck a curb, flipped and caught fire on State Highway 114. The two just left Club Privae in northwest Dallas. Brown died that morning at Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Brent’s trial began Monday. If convicted of intoxication manslaughter, he faces 20 years in prison but could also be sentenced to probation.
Palm’s testimony came on a day when the jury saw dash cam footage of Brent failing a sobriety test and being placed into custody after being unable to recite the alphabet. He’s heard saying, “I got a buzz going” and refuses medical attention, telling officers he hopes to get home to avoid media attention. He did express concern about Brown.
Palm told the jury that Brent smelled “moderately” of alcohol and had watery eyes when he was questioned. Brent is heard telling Palm he “ordered three bottles of champagne to share with four teammates.” Brent was later found to have a blood alcohol content of .18, more than twice the legal amount of .08.
“The evidence speaks for itself,” said Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris, the lead prosecutor. “The blood does not lie.”
George Milner, the defense attorney representing Brent, said his client was not drunk and that speed was the primary factor in the wreck. He blamed the poor showing during the sobriety test on Brent being disoriented after such a violent wreck and tried to show the jury that his eyes were watery because of the powder released when his airbags deployed.
“He was guilty of being stupid and driving too fast but he was not drunk,” he told the court. “Brent was nearly scalped alive during the accident. There’s no way he could do a field sobriety test at the scene.”
Milner also said there’s no footage of Brent with a drink in his hand at Club Privae that night and believes the dash cam footage will bolster his argument.
“I think the video is favorable to us because of the way he articulates,” Milner said outside the courtroom.
Brent is also indicted on a manslaughter charge, which will allow for a conviction if the jury finds he was not intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Palms later testified that he went to Valley Ranch to interview the current and former Cowboys players who were with Brent in the hours before the accident. Among those interviewed were safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray; retired safety Gerald Sensabaugh; and cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins.
The defense said it plans to call some, if not all, of those players to testify. Testimony will continue Tuesday.