Josh Brent jurors fail to reach verdict after initial deliberations

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

WFAA

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

DALLAS –– A Dallas County jury on Tuesday began deliberating the fate of ex-Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent, who faces up to 20 years in prison for the death of friend and teammate Jerry Brown Jr.

The jury was sequestered at 4 p.m. after failing to reach a verdict. They will return Wednesday morning for further deliberations.

Brown was killed in Dec. 2012 while riding in the passenger seat of Brent’s Mercedes, which struck a curb at a high rate of speed and flipped on an Irving highway after the two left a northwest Dallas club.

Both the defense and prosecution wrapped closing arguments moments after 11 a.m. Tuesday. The defense once again attempted to poke holes in the state’s charge that Brent was intoxicated the night of the wreck.

Defense attorney George Milner told jurors that Brent spoke clearly without slurring during the 911 call he made after the crash. Milner is arguing that speed was the primary contributing factor in the accident. 

“Do you think if Jerry Brown had reason to believe Brent was drunk they wouldn’t have switched?,” Milner asked, adding that Brown was not intoxicated when he died. 

Prosecutors point to the .189 blood alcohol content sample taken from Brent following the crash. Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris called the former lineman an “experienced drinker” and argued that he often drank to excess. 

Prosecutor Jason Hermus played footage of Brent’s field sobriety test and argued that he failed it. 

“Mr. Brent, who is a professional athlete who runs after targets at the highest level, can’t even stand up,” Hermus said. “You have to believe your eyes.” 

Harris called Brent a liar, saying he was untruthful the night of the crash when police asked him how much he had to drink. During testimony last week, the forensic toxicologist who found Brent’s BAC to be .189 –– more than double the legal limit of .08 –– told the jury he would’ve had about 17 drinks before crashing his car. 

“He lied, why?,” Harris asked. “Because he knew he was over the limit.” 

The defense portrayed Brent as driving recklessly but not drunk. Defense attorney Deandra Grant reminded the defense that the state has the burden to prove beyond doubt that Brent was intoxicated at the time of the crash. 

“To get to him, they must go through you,” Grant said. 

There were hugs and tears in the courtroom, which was dotted with family members of Brent and Brown as well as numerous Dallas Cowboys, including linebacker Sean Lee who hugged Brent before leaving.

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