DALLAS - Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent was sentenced Friday to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation for a drunken car crash that killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown.
Brent was convicted Wednesday of intoxication manslaughter for the December 2012 crash on a suburban Dallas highway that killed Brown, who was a passenger in Brent's car. Brent could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Brent, a Cowboys defensive tackle, and Brown, a linebacker on the practice squad, also played together at the University of Illinois and were close friends. They were headed home from a night of partying with Dallas teammates when Brent lost control of his Mercedes and crashed. Officers who arrived on scene saw Brent trying to pull Brown's body from the wreckage.
Blood tests pegged Brent's blood alcohol content at 0.18 per cent, which is more than twice the state's legal limit to drive of 0.08 per cent. Prosecutors told jurors that the burly, 320-pound lineman had as many as 17 drinks on the night of the crash.
One of Brent's lawyers, George Milner, argued that Brent wasn't drunk and was only "guilty of being stupid behind the wheel of a car." He contended that Brent couldn't have had nearly as much to drink as prosecutors said he had, and that the police blood tests were flawed.
Brent's lawyers pushed their case for probation Thursday, calling a Dallas County official who testified that the county currently has 34 intoxication manslaughter cases that resulted in probation.
Kevin Brooks, one of Brent's lawyers, said the one-time defensive tackle would be easy to monitor because of "who he is and who he was." Brent retired from football last year.
Brown's mother, Stacey Jackson, has also publicly forgiven Brent. When asked Thursday if she holds Brent responsible for her son's death, she said: "He's still responsible, but you can't go on in life holding a grudge. We all make mistakes."
Prosecutors pushed for prison time for Brent, who went to trial only weeks after another Texas intoxication manslaughter case sparked widespread public outrage. In that case, a defence expert argued that the defendant, a 17-year-old boy who caused a drunken crash that killed four people, deserved leniency because his parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — a condition the expert termed "affluenza." The teen wasn't given prison time.
On Thursday, prosecutor Rebecca Dodds emphasized Brent's 2009 drunken driving arrest in Illinois to press the state's argument that he deserves prison time. In that case, he served 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanour charge.
"Probation doesn't work for Josh Brent," prosecutor Rebecca Dodds told the jury during closing statements in the punishment phase.
Brent played in all 12 games for the Cowboys in 2012 before the crash. Brown made the practice squad that season.