Former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter Wednesday for driving and crashing in a fiery wreck that killed his teammate and close friend, Jerry Brown, in December 2012.
He faces up to 20 years in prison. He could also get probation, as did North Texas teen, Ethan Couch, who received probation for intoxication manslaughter after a wreck that left four people dead a few weeks ago.
Brent was led from the courtroom in handcuffs after the jury returned its decision following nine hours of deliberation over two days. Among those sitting with Brent’s sobbing family was Stacey Jackson, Brown’s mother. Jackson left the courtroom with Brent’s family and did not answer questions. She said in previous interviews that she’s forgiven Brent and could testify in support of a lighter sentence for him when that phase of the trial begins Thursday.
Attorneys from both sides remain under a gag order that prevented them from commenting after the proceedings.
“We understand the very serious nature of this situation and express our concerns for all of the families and individuals that have been affected by the tragedy of Jerry Brown’s death,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement.
Prosecutors say Brent, a defensive tackle, was drunk when he crashed his Mercedes on a suburban Dallas highway in December 2012, killing Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys practice squad who had also been Brent’s teammate at the University of Illinois. Officers who arrived on scene saw Brent trying to pull Brown’s body from the wreckage.
Police say Brent’s blood alcohol level was tested shortly after the crash at 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Texas. Prosecutors last week argued that the burly, 320-pound defensive tackle had as many as 17 drinks the night of the crash.
Brent’s attorneys argued the blood tests used by police were faulty and that Brent couldn’t have had nearly that much to drink. Attorney George Milner said his client was “guilty of being stupid behind the wheel of a car,” not drinking beforehand.
Jurors saw video of Brent appearing to hold bottles of Champagne in each hand and credit-card receipts that showed Brent had purchased three bottles. They also saw police camera footage of Brent losing his balance during field sobriety tests and occasionally stumbling over his words while talking to officers.