Toxicologist estimates ex-Cowboy Brent had 17 drinks night of fatal crash

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

WFAA

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 4:45 PM

DALLAS –– In the aftermath of the crash that killed him, Cowboys practice team member Jerry Brown Jr.’s jeans and a sneaker were laying in the middle of State Highway 114. The sunroof of the 2007 Mercedes he was in was separated from the car, which flipped and caught fire with Brown inside it. 

Behind the wheel was his teammate Josh Brent, whose intoxication manslaughter trial entered its third day on Wednesday. Jurors were shown graphic images of the crime scene –– Brent’s car traveled the length of three football fields from the point where he struck a curb and lost control, ripping off two of its tires. 

An accident investigator estimated the car was traveling 110 miles-per-hour in a 45 mph zone. Brent told police he was going 70.

“To rip the wheels off the car, it takes a lot of force,” the investigator testified. 

Brent’s attorneys do not deny he was driving too fast when he flipped his car. They are attempting to make the jurors doubt that Brent was intoxicated. Earlier, jurors heard a forensic toxicologist estimate that he consumed 17 drinks the night he crashed his car on that Irving highway. 

Justin Schwane is the man who tested a sample of Brent’s blood after the crash and determined his blood alcohol content to be .18, more than twice the legal limit of .08. He was the first witness to take the stand Wednesday at the Frank Crowley Courthouse, the third day of testimony in Brent’s trial. 

“I estimate approximately 17 standard size drinks in a 320 to 325 pound man like him," Schwane said.

Brent told police he drank fewer than five. 

Schwane works for the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science or SWIFS. Under cross-examination defense attorney Deanna Grant questioned Schwane on his credentials and on the integrity of the blood alcohol testing. 

She questioned how Brent’s blood was stored, what additives were used to test the blood and about the testing equipment used.  

Grant is trying to show the equipment was contaminated. During test runs, she said, a trace of alcohol showed up in a vial of pure water.

Schwane stood firm on his testimony, saying the tests met industry standards, the vials were properly stored and the equipment is not contaminated.

The wreck occurred on Dec. 8, 2012 after the two men left Club Privae in northwest Dallas. Prosecutors say a drunken Brent hit a curb and flipped his Mercedes. Brown died after the crash and Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter. 

On Tuesday, the jury saw video of his arrest. Brent was aggravated that an officer was drawing his blood to test for alcohol. Irving Ofc. Travis Huckaby testified the retired Cowboy seemed “more concerned about getting home” than the fate of his friend. He said Brent’s “eyes welled up with tears and for the first time showed real emotion” upon being told his friend was dead. 

Testimony is continuing Wednesday afternoon. Waitresses at the restaurants and clubs where Brent and other Dallas Cowboys players were partying in the hours leading up to the crash are expected to take the stand.  

In addition to the intoxication manslaughter charge, Brent was also indicted for manslaughter. If a jury finds he was not intoxicated, he can still be convicted on the second count. He faces up to 20 years in prison but could also be sentenced to probation. 

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