Judge allows blood-alcohol evidence in ex-Cowboy’s trial in DWI death

Posted Friday, Aug. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A judge denied a defense request Friday to keep a jury from learning the blood-alcohol level of former Dallas Cowboys lineman Josh Brent after a wreck last year in Irving that killed his passenger.

State District Judge Robert Burns III did grant a defense request for a delay in Brent’s trial on an intoxication manslaughter charge, now set for Nov. 18.

Brent, 25, is accused of driving drunk and causing the death of Jerry Brown, a Cowboys linebacker on the practice squad. Brown was killed about 2:20 a.m. Dec. 8 in a single-car crash on Texas 114.

At the scene, Brent refused to take a breath test or to have his blood drawn.

Irving police Sgt. Travis Huckaby testified Friday that he drove Brent to a hospital, where a registered nurse drew his blood about an hour after the wreck. Huckaby did not obtain a warrant.

Brent’s blood-alcohol level measured 0.189, more than twice the legal limit for driving, authorities have said.

Brent’s attorney, George Milner, cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a 2012 Missouri case in asking Burns to suppress the blood-alcohol evidence. The Supreme Court ruled that except in emergency circumstances, a warrantless blood draw is subject to review.

Burns said the ruling did not invalidate Texas law, which allows for warrantless blood draws.

“Our statute was designed to deal with the delay that would be caused by obtaining a warrant,” Burns said. “There is compliance with state law in this case.”

Huckaby testified that it would have taken 45 minutes to an hour to obtain a warrant to draw Brent’s blood, which was not practical or reasonable.

“The thought of getting a warrant never crossed my mind,” Huckaby said. “He failed the field sobriety tests.”

Huckaby said that otherwise, Brent cooperated with police. But noting his size — 6-foot-2, 320 pounds — and believing him to be intoxicated, officers positioned themselves in case he wanted to fight, he said.

“There was a concern because of his size that he might become uncooperative,” Huckaby said.

Brent told officers that he had been to “three or four” nightclubs before the crash, but he would not identify them, saying he did not want to get anyone in trouble, Huckaby said.

Brent retired from the Cowboys in July. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. He has a prior DWI conviction from his home state of Illinois.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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