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, but could receive probation if the jury recommends it.
The sentencing phase of the trial is set to begin Thursday. Jerry Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, could be called to testify. Jackson left the courtroom with Brent's family Wednesday and has publicly declared that she's forgiven the man who was behind the wheel the night her son was killed.
The jury received the case Tuesday and deliberated for about three-and-a-half hours, but was sequestered after they couldn’t reach a verdict. Jurors signaled that they reached one at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. When they entered the courtroom, some were crying.
The fatal one-vehicle accident occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 8 2012, moments after the two left Club Privae in northwest Dallas. Brent 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 0.189, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. The defense’s argument attempted to pin the accident on how fast Brent was driving. George Milner, Brent’s attorney, argued that his client was not intoxicated at the time of the crash and tried to make the jurors doubt the accuracy of the blood testing process.
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 legally drunk, Milner argued.
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 –– he was arrested after being unable to accurately recite the alphabet. 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 0.189 BAC.
While Brent was released on bond prior to the trial, court documents showed that the district attorney's office was notified four times that his alcohol monitor detected "anomalies in the reports" as well as "other instances of possible tampering with the device." He also twice tested positive for marijuana and was briefly jailed.
During the five days of testimony, the prosecution and defense called waitresses from the restaurant and the club Brent frequented that night. Cowboys Danny McCray and Barry Church also testified. Prosecutors showed graphic autopsy photos of Brown that showed his injuries: blunt force trauma to the neck and head.
Jurors saw photos showing Brent's mangled Mercedes, which traveled the length of three football fields from the spot where he struck the curb. The crash also ripped off two of its tires and the sunroof. Brown's jeans and a sneaker were also laying in the middle of State Highway 114.