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Deadly driving case for Cowboys' Brent goes to Dallas jury

Source: Reuters - Tue, 21 Jan 2014 23:36 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with end of court proceedings for the day)

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Jurors on Tuesday began deliberating the fate of former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent, who faces an intoxication manslaughter charge for being behind the wheel in a single-car crash that killed his teammate Jerry Brown Jr.

In closing arguments, prosecutors told a Dallas court that Brent, 25, was "the poster child for intoxication manslaughter" for drinking heavily at a private club, driving away and then flipping his Mercedes after slamming into a curb on a state highway at 110 mph (177 kph).

Defense lawyers told the jury that Brent was reckless but not drunk at the time of the high-speed crash on Dec. 8, 2012.

After the jury left to start deliberations, Brown's mother hugged Brent and wept.

Jurors deliberated for four hours on Tuesday with no verdict. They will reconvene on Wednesday.

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 the Dallas-area club and that alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

Defense lawyers told the court the amount of liquor Brent drank was not enough to make him drunk because of his large stature. Brent's playing weight was 320 pounds (145 kg).

"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. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)

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