- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

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 for 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 faces up to 20 years in prison or as little as probation.

Jackson has said she has forgiven Brent.

“He’s still responsible, but you can’t go on in life holding a grudge,” Jackson told the court while Brent mostly stared at the table in front of him. “We all make mistakes.”

After both sides finished calling witnesses and wrapped up their cases Thursday, the jury was dismissed for the night. Jurors were expected to resume deliberations on Friday.

Brent and Brown were friends and had played together at the University of Illinois. 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, more than twice the legal limit. Authorities say it would have taken as many as 17 drinks for Brown to get that drunk.

Defense attorneys 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 attorneys, 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.

The defense called several other character witnesses, including Brent’s uncle. Brooks also said that living with Brown’s death was all the sentencing Brent needed.

“You can’t punish him any more than that,” Brooks said during closing arguments in the sentencing phase.

Prosecutors established details of Brent’s drunken-driving arrest in Illinois in 2009 and used that case to argue that Brent belonged in prison. He served 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

“Probation doesn’t work for Josh Brent,” prosecutor Rebecca Dodds told the jury.

Brent’s 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.”

Former Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett, who is now a coach in Dallas, attended the sentencing phase Thursday, and Bryan Wansley, the team’s director of player development, testified about aspects of the league’s and the team’s support systems for players.

Brent’s conviction comes 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 widespread scrutiny.


Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.

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