Brent's Intoxication Manslaughter Case Handed to Jury

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jurors at the Josh Brent trial have finished for the day and will resume deliberations in the morning. The former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the 2012 crash death of friend and teammate Jerry Brown. (Published Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014)

    Deliberations in former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent's intoxication manslaughter trial will continue Wednesday.

    At about 4 p.m. Tuesday, it was announced that the jury would be sequestered overnight and that deliberations would resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

    Prosecutors accuse the former defensive tackle of drunkenly crashing his Mercedes near Dallas during a night out in Dec., 2012, killing his good friend and teammate, Jerry Brown Jr.

    The jury got the case after lawyers delivered their closing arguments to a packed courtroom.  Former Cowboys teammate Sean Lee and former Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton were in attendance Tuesday.  When the closing arguments concluded, Lee stood and hugged Brent before leaving the courtroom.

    Brent also shared a long, tearful hug with Stacey Jackson, Brown's mother, according to NBC 5 reporter Randy McIlwain who is tweeting from the courtroom.

    Jackson has publicly forgiven Brent, whose sentence could range from probation, which Brent has asked for if convicted, to 20 years in prison.

    Brent and Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys' practice squad who also played with Brent at the University of Illinois, were headed home from a nightclub where they had been partying with fellow Cowboys when Brent lost control of his Mercedes, causing a fiery accident. Officers who arrived on scene said Brent was seen trying to pull Brown's body from the wreckage.

    Prosecutors say Brent was driving as fast as 110 mph at the time of the crash and that blood tests showed his blood alcohol content was 0.18 percent, which is more than twice Texas' legal limit to drive of 0.08 percent. Prosecutors allege that the burly, 320-pound defensive tackle had as many as 17 drinks on the night of the crash.

    Brent's attorneys contend that the blood tests used by police were faulty and that Brent couldn't have drunk nearly that much alcohol.

    Prosecutors Jason Hermus and Heath Harris called on the jury Tuesday to send a message about the serious nature of Brent's alleged crime, saying drunken drivers put the public in danger.

    Hermus stood in front of Brent, hit the table and shouted: "They shouldn't be driving, no exceptions, no excuses!"

    Hermus replayed police dash cam video of Brent losing his balance and stumbling as he tried to walk in a straight line. He referenced footage of Brent telling an Irving police officer that he was "buzzed" and nightclub security video that appears to show Brent holding up two bottles of Champagne.

    "You can see with your own eyes, time and time and time again, that he is not normal," Hermus said.

    Harris held up an undamaged glass bottle of unopened Cognac found in the wrecked Mercedes. He stood next to Brent, raised the bottle as if to chug from it and told jurors that on that night, Brent was "in the club, turning it up."

    "This is almost like a poster child case for intoxication manslaughter," Harris said.

    Brent's attorneys argued that prosecutors were misleading the jury. They cited a defense expert's testimony that the Dallas County crime lab had used expired fluid to process Brent's blood and came up with an incorrect result.

    "In the history of mankind, there has never been created such a thing as an infallible machine," defense attorney Kevin Brooks said. "It doesn't exist. Has never existed. Planes crash. Computers don't boot up. Cars stop running."

    George Milner, another of Brent's attorneys, told jurors they had sworn at the start to keep an open mind about the case and called on them to remain skeptical and acquit Brent.

    "You will not then be able to go back in time and correct a mistake if you make it now," Milner said. "There is no going back in time."