DALLAS (AP) — The mother of a Dallas Cowboys practice squad player who was killed in a December 2012 car crash said she doesn’t hold a grudge against the man who was drunk behind the wheel that night, her son’s close friend and teammate Josh Brent.
Stacey Jackson wasn’t asked and didn’t say Thursday whether she thinks Brent should go to prison over the December 2012 crash that killed her son, Jerry Brown, who was a passenger in Brent’s car. Brent was convicted Wednesday of intoxication manslaughter in Brown’s death and faced up to 20 years in prison or as little as probation.
Jackson has said she has forgiven Brent, though.
“He’s still responsible but you can’t go on in life holding a grudge,” Jackson told the court. “We all make mistakes.”
After both sides finished calling witnesses and wrapped up their cases Thursday, the jury was dismissed for the night. It was expected to resume deliberating Brent’s sentence on Friday.
Brent and Brown played together at the University of Illinois and were close friends. Jackson testified that when the Cowboys signed her son, a linebacker, to the practice squad, he was happy because he and Brent were “going to be back together.”
The two friends were driving home at the end of a night partying with teammates when Brent lost control of his Mercedes and crashed on a suburban Dallas highway. The first officers to arrive said Brent was trying to pull his friend’s body from the wreckage.
Prosecutors say Brent was driving as fast as 110 mph, and that the burly, 320-pound defensive tackle’s blood-alcohol content after the crash was 0.18 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit. Authorities say it would have taken as many as 17 drinks for Brown to get that drunk.
Brent’s attorneys argued that the blood tests were faulty and that Brent could not have drank nearly that much. Attorney George Milner said his client was “guilty of being stupid behind the wheel of a car,” not drinking beforehand.
Milner has said that no one besides Jackson may have suffered from the aftermath as much as Brent, who lost his close friend and his career.
Brent played in all 12 games of the 2012 NFL season before the crash, but retired in July.
His ties to the Cowboys were prominent at trial. Two current players, Barry Church and Danny McCray, testified about hanging out with Brent and Brown, first playing video games, then having dinner and going to Privae, a Dallas nightclub.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee attended part of the trial to show support for Brent, and team owner Jerry Jones said this week that he was closely watching for a verdict.
“Certainly it’s tragic. We’ve all, to some degree, have been a part of this,” Jones said Tuesday, according to the Cowboys’ website. “We support Josh. This has been just a terrible experience for the families who lost a loved one and for Josh who loved Jerry as well.”
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 dash cam footage of Brent losing his balance during field sobriety tests and occasionally stumbling over his words while talking to officers.
It was, in the words of prosecutors Jason Hermus and Heath Harris, a textbook case of intoxication manslaughter. The prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments they should send a message about the danger posed by drunken drivers.
Hermus stood in front of Brent, hit the table and shouted: “They shouldn’t be driving, no exceptions, no excuses!”
While Brent is eligible for probation, prosecutors have indicated they will push for jail time. His conviction comes just after weeks of fierce debate about a North Texas teen, Ethan Couch, who received probation for intoxication manslaughter after a wreck that left four people dead. Couch’s case, and the so-called “affluenza” defense his attorneys employed, became the subject of fierce, widespread scrutiny.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins attended parts of Brent’s trial and whispered in prosecutors’ ears during the questioning of one witness. Watkins told a sports radio station last year that prosecutors had the responsibility to make sure Brent “loses his freedom.”
Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.