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Coach inducted into hall of fame, fired

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Over the weekend, the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Association inducted Herb Hammond into its hall of fame. You’ll find his bust in the unemployed wing. About a week before his induction, Hammond was fired after 17 years and 414 wins in Henry Clay High School in Lexington.

Hammond officially was fired for illegal recruiting, but it also appears his sin was picking a fight with a big swinging dick in Lexington (not John Calipari) who knew his way around a rule book. Hammond ended up in a fight with Bill Hurt, whose father was Henry Clay’s longtime principal, and who is an attorney of some note in the area.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Hammond said he lost his job because a “disgruntled parent” accused him of trying to recruit his son back to Henry Clay after he had transferred to Lexington Catholic last summer.

But Don Adkins, who oversees athletics for Fayette County’s public schools, said there was “substantial evidence” against Hammond, including incriminating e-mail messages, and that “the termination of his coaching duties was in a fair manner.” …

Bill Hurt, a Lexington attorney, is the parent who accused Hammond of recruiting.

Hurt’s son, Will, was Henry Clay’s starting shortstop and pitched some as a freshman last year.

A rift developed between Hammond and Bill Hurt last season over what teams Will could play for during the summer. It culminated with the Hurts moving across town and Will transferring to Lexington Catholic.

On Hurt’s transfer papers, Henry Clay noted an objection, saying that Hurt was switching schools for athletic purposes, which led the [Kentucky High School Athletic Association] to initially rule him ineligible for his sophomore season at Lexington Catholic.

The Hurts appealed that ruling.

Before a hearing officer upheld the KHSAA’s ruling, Hammond and Bill Hurt exchanged e-mail messages that led to the recruiting allegation.

Specifically, before the Kentucky authorities ruled on the appeal Hammond e-mailed Hurt that he wanted to “get things right” so his on wouldn’t have to sit out a year because of “adult disagreements.” Hammond didn’t say exactly what he meant, and according to the Herald-Leader, Hurt thought Hammond meant that Henry Clay would drop its objection and let his son play at Lexington Catholic. So far, it looks like a coach who made a mistake of getting all man-to-man, let’s-forget-the-rules to a lawyer, and maybe some misinterpretation, but nothing fireable.

But then Hammond e-mailed Hurt a scenario detailing how his son could come back to Henry Clay and play as a sophomore, despite being banned for a year. Hurt accused Hammond of recruiting his son in violation of KHSAA rules. Then, just to prove how stupid he could possibly be, Hammond also e-mailed Lexington Catholic’s coach to tell him not to play Will Hurt as a sophomore, calling it a “dignity check” on that program. Pissed beyond belief, and with an attorney’s eye toward rules, Hurt decided to squawk that Hammond illegally worked out players during a so-called “dead” period where he was supposed to have no contact. (Hammond said he attended one summer game, but that was it.)

The school district then fired Hammond, and dropped its objection to Will Hurt’s transfer. He can play this spring as a sophomore.

No word on whether Hammond’s hall of fame induction speech was more bitter than Michael Jordan’s.

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David Jason Stinson: not guilty in high school football player's practice death

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A Louisville jury took only 90 minutes Thursday to come back with acquittals of former high school football coach David Jason Stinson, tried on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment after a player, Max Gilpin, 15, collapsed during a hot August 2008 practice, then died a few days later.

I am not surprised.

I would agree with Max Gilpin’s family, who said after the trial they were glad to have his story told, and that he did not die in vain. The Stinson case, if nothing else, has caused a lot of coaches to re-examine their techniques, especially when it comes to players who are showing signs of fatigue and injury. It’s a fine line between pushing hard and too hard, and Stinson’s trial will have them thinking about where that line stands with every player. I certainly will as I coach tween-age basketball players this fall and winter.

The case, considered to the first time a coach was indicted for the practice-related death of a player, also spurred Kentucky and other states, many of which already had guidelines for practicing in the heat and handling heat-related conditions, to intensify their efforts at ensuring player safety.

The jury did not talk to reporters after the verdict, so we don’t know yet why they did not convict. Nobody knows yet if they believed testimony that surmised Gilpin was already sick, with an elevated temperature, the day of practice, and also was at a higher risk of dehydration because of his use of creatine and Adderall.

As for the prosecution, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Leland Hurlbert told the Courier-Journal he knew it would be difficult to “find a football coach guilty of a crime.”

That’s an insult to the jury.

If the state was so worried it would be difficult to convict a football coach, why didn’t it present a better case? The problem wasn’t the jury making goo-goo eyes at a football coach. The problem was that the prosecution seemed to hinge its case that only the tragedy of Max Gilpin’s death would be enough to sway a jury, because it certainly never made an airtight case that Stinson denied water and ran an unusually hard practice, the basis for the charges.

Right before the trial, the prosecution also sent signals it was in trouble by suddenly calling a grand jury to get a wanton endangerment charge — still a felony, but a weaker charge compared with reckless homicide, a way to hedge its bet that a jury would find Stinson of causing a death by giving it the option to say he merely put Max Gilpin in a position of harm. Then were was the matter of withholding 1,500 pages of evidence from the defense until the trial — evidence that the judge threw out, evidence that mostly was unfriendly to the prosecution — and then begging unsuccessfully to the judge to delay it.

Stinson isn’t out of the legal woods yet. Gilpin’s parents have a civil suit against him, the Louisville schools and others. But I wonder if the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office of Dave Stengel is out of the woods on this. Surely, someone is going to call for an investigation as to why he spent so much time and money pursuing a fruitless case. It would be a stretch to lump Stengel in with disgraced, disbarred Duke lacrosse rape case prosecutor Mike Nifong. But when you have a high-profile bomb, people are going to ask questions about why you lobbed it.

Written by rkcookjr

September 17, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Update on the Stinson trial: Are the jurors watching "The Biggest Loser"?

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player-thumbOn Thursday, the jury is scheduled to start deliberating the case of David Jason Stinson, on trial in Louisville on reckless homicide and wanton endangerment charges in the August 2008 death of one of his players. 15-year-old Max Gilpin, who died three days after overheating at one of Stinson’s Pleasure Ridge Park High School practices. I would say, as said numerous times before the trial, that the chances of convicting Stinson are slim. Not that it has anything to do with the trial, but those thoughts intensified after watching a recent episode of a weight-loss show that featured people getting yelled at and collapsing of heat stroke.

You can go to the site of Stinson’s hometown Louisville Courier-Journal for the best blow-by-blow coverage, including video archives and live testimony. In my never-earned-a-JD legal opinion, the prosecution’s presentation created plenty of reasonable doubt, with discussion about how Gilpin had a viral infection the day of the fateful practice that had already elevated his body temperature, as well as discussion about his use of Adderall and creatine, which can accelerate dehydration.

Then there was the county coroner saying he never performed an autopsy because he didn’t see any “malfeasance,” with the coroner and investigators saying this was the first homicide case they could remember where an autopsy hadn’t been performed. (The official ruling is that Gilpin died of septic shock.) Also, the lead investigator said he never talked to any medical professionals. Meanwhile, players testified that while Stinson ran a tough practice in 94-degree heat-index conditions, he did allow water breaks and didn’t time the end-of-practice wind sprints that immediately preceded Gilpin’s collapse — that is, he allowed players to run them at their own pace, an unusual move when a coach is having players run gassers.

To me, these creates plenty of reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case, which is based on the assertion that Stinson denied his players water breaks in the heat, and thus created the conditions for Gilpin’s death. Not enough reasonable doubt for the judge to uphold a motion by the defense to dismiss the case. But I would be shocked if Stinson got sent to jail.

The case is getting a lot of attention because it’s the first time, that anyone knows of, a coach has been charged for the practice- or game-related death of player. It also has many coaches and organizations, legitimately, looking over their policies about heat safety, medical disclosures and emergency treatment. But it also has coaches at every level fearing whether pushing players to their physical limits is a criminal act.

You don’t have to be a hard-ass to do that — it’s what coaches, such as myself, often do. Sometimes you have players run a little extra to get their attention. You have them do it to get in shape. You have them do it because you want to know how far your players can go, and you want to show them how far they can go if they push themselves. Do some coaches go overboard with it? Oh, yeah. Was Stinson being kind of a dick saying, before Gilpin collapsed, he wasn’t going to stop having the players run until somebody quit? Oh, yeah. But being a dick by its ownself isn’t a crime.

I was thinking of Stinson when I watched Tuesday night’s premiere of the NBC weight-loss reality show, “The Biggest Loser.” Now its eighth season, regular watchers know what’s coming: morbidly obese people pushed beyond what they believe is their physical limits in the name of losing weight and getting healthy. The show’s trainers, particuarly Jillian Michaels, have built brand names out of being tough-as-nails, no-excuses coaches to the show’s contestants.

Two moments in the show had me wondering whether the jurors watched the show, and what they thought. The first came when one of the contestants collapsed near the end of a mile walk/run, which the contestants were told to do before they had even met their trainers. Contestant Tracey Yukich collapsed about 100 yards short of the finish line, saying her legs had turned to jelly. A medic arrived, but instead of treating her right away, he and the other contestants dragged her to the finish for the purported reason that she would have been so disappointed had she not made it. After she “finished,” Yukich’s eyes started rolling to the back of her head, and she was unresponsive. A helicopter had to be called to the scene, and Yukich had to spent the rest of the week in the hospital.

The cause of her problems, which were not mentioned on the show: heat stroke. In many ways, Yukich’s situation was a lot like the way Gilpin’s collapse was described. And like at that practice, Yukich wasn’t whisked off right away — at first there seemed to be some confusion and disbelief that prevented a rush to treatment. And this was on a show packed with medical staff, not a high school football team that may or may not have a trainer present.

You can fault “The Biggest Loser” producers for possibly being the ones who wanted to see Yukich cross the finish line. After all, in a show predicated upon the conceit that even the fattest among us can push ourselves physically, nothing would send America back to Ding Dongs as watching a contestant die before reaching the end of a workout. While I know the producers have a storyline to push, I also know that nothing would get the show canceled faster than someone dying, period. But as to the argument that Stinson and the other coaches didn’t react quickly enough — well, it appears few ever do, even when they have the training to do so.

The second moment on “The Biggest Loser” that had me thinking of Stinson was the relationship between trainer Jillian Michaels and 476-pound Shay Sorrells, the heaviest contestant ever. Michaels has built a lucrative brand off of being a hard-ass, and she was screaming at Sorrells when she quit in the middle of a workout. Now Sorrells is a troubled soul who was in foster care most of her childhood because of a heroin-addicted mother, and at 476 pounds she was being put through a workout that would have a lot of fit people heaving. But Michaels was yelling, calling her a quitter, saying it was time to stop being the victim. There was no mercy.

Funny thing is, the tough-as-nails approach appeared to work. After Michaels ignored Sorrells while she had a good cry outside, Sorrells came back in and finished the workout.

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I’m not going to argue whether Michaels was right in yelling at Sorrells as a means of inspiration. But millions of people, perhaps including Stinson jury members, watch “The Biggest Loser.” Even if they were never yelled at by a football coach, they’re familiar with trainers and coaches who push, cajole, and, yes, yell, as a means of inspiration and drawing out the best in somebody. “The Biggest Loser” is as mainstream as it gets.

Knowing that, it’s hard for me to believe that jurors are going to look at Stinson’s contact and see anything unusual. Does that mean everything he did was all right? Probably not. In the end, Max Gilpin’s death is going to go down as a tragedy that was more about the unique circumstances of a child’s health doing a certain activity on a certain day than it is a referendum on whether coaches should tone it down. If nothing else, Stinson’s trial is causing coaches to re-examine what they do; I know I will. But it won’t send Stinson to prison.

Parent ticked that high school football coach gave players a holy water break

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David Jason Stinson is facing criminal charges in part because it’s suspected his denying water caused a player to die. Now another Kentucky football coach, a little bit south of Stinson’s Louisville, has put himself at legal risk for giving his players too much water in an attempt to give them eternal life.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal, which by now must have a full-time high school coach legal writer:

The head football coach at Breckinridge County High School took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them were baptized, school officials say.

The mother of one player said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district’s superintendent was there and did not object.

“Nobody should push their faith on anybody else,” said Michelle Ammons, whose son, Robert Coffey, said Coach Scott Mooney told him and other players that the Aug. 26 outing would include only a motivational speaker and a free steak dinner.

Two other parents, however, said in interviews that their sons told them that Mooney had said the voluntary outing to Franklin Crossroads Baptist Church in Hardin County would include a revival.

Mooney, contacted by phone, said school district officials instructed him not to comment.

But Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas.

Meeks said parents weren’t given permission slips to sign but knew the event would include a church service, if not specifically a baptism. She said eight or nine players came forward and were baptized.

“None of the players were rewarded for going and none were punished for not going,” Meeks said.

David Friedman, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said in an interview that the trip would appear to violate Supreme Court edicts on the separation of church and state — even if it was voluntary and the school district didn’t pay for the fuel.

“If players want to attend the coach’s church and get baptized, that’s great,” Friedman said. But a coach cannot solicit player attendance at school, he said, noting, “Coaches have great power and persuasion by virtue of their position, and they have to stay neutral.”

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A little football-style baptism.

Neither the ACLU nor the Liberty Counsel, a self-described religious rights group quoted as saying the coach did nothing wrong, are involved in the dispute — but you know that’s going to change soon enough.

As the article notes, in March the U.S. Supreme Court — not the one with Sonia Sotomayor on it — “rejected an appeal from a high school football coach in New Jersey who wanted to bow his head and kneel during prayers led by his players, despite a school district policy prohibiting it.”

The fight in the Kentucky case is going to be over whether any school employee can invite a student or player to a church without parental permission without violating church-state separation, or whether they can even do so at all, given the possible coercive nature of the invitation (for example, what if a football coach demoted a player who didn’t go?).

Perhaps Hardin County Schools needed a mandate from the state superintendent to have kids opt out of the church service, like the first-in-the-nation order he barked to local districts to give parents the option of not allowing their children to allow today’s Barack Obama speech to schools on the importance of furthering the People’s Godless Socialist Revolution of 2008.

You know, if Michelle Ammons did want to bring in the ACLU to sue the school, she might have a case. The story, intentionally or not, paints a picture of a coach, superintendent and church willing to — what’s the popular term these days? — indoctrinate children behind their parents’ backs.

[Superintendent] Meeks said she would have sought the consent of parents for the baptism of students if they had been “7 or 8 or 9” years old. But she didn’t think it was necessary for the players who are “16 or 17.”

She said that if Robert’s parents didn’t know that the outing was going to include a revival service it was because “he apparently was not forthcoming with his parents.”

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Ron Davis, said that he requires minors to obtain their parents’ consent to be baptized, but he added: “Sometimes 16 year olds look like 18 years. We did the best we could.”

He said the event on Aug. 26 “was a great service” and that attendance by the players was strictly voluntary.

“I trust the coach 100 percent,” he said of Mooney. “He is a fine young man and he is sure not going to manipulate anyone.” …

[Ammons] said she was prepared to drop the matter until she found out that Meeks attended the service. She said she consulted a lawyer in Elizabethtown but hasn’t decided what action she will take.

Certainly for many evangelicals, converting souls is an important part of their religion. That is not always a bad thing. But trying to convert children as you squeeze out their parents is treading on dangerous ground. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone involved in the case of Muslim-turned-Christian-runaway Rifqa Bary.

Live coverage of the Kentucky football coach trial

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The Louisville Courier-Journal has a site here that will put you in the coutroom for the trial of David Jason Stinson, the Kentucky high school football coach on trial for reckless homicide and wanton endangerment for the overheating death of one of his players, Max Gilpin, who collapsed during a 2008 practice. The site also includes video archives of previous trial action.

As I type this, Max Gilpin’s father, Jeff, is on the witness stand.

Written by rkcookjr

September 8, 2009 at 10:40 am

Kentucky football coach's reckless homicide trial set to begin

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player-thumbAs I write this, it’s the night before the Aug. 31 Louisville, Ky., trial of former Pleasure Ridge Park High football coach David Jason Stinson. He is charged with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment in the practice-related death last year of one his players, Max Gilpin, 15. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is the first time anyone knows of that a coach has been indicted for the death of a player under his charge for something that happened in a practice or game.

I’ve also said this before, and I’ll say it again: I would be shocked if Stinson gets convicted.

The Jefferson County prosecutor got a grand jury indictment on the reckless homicide charge in January, and he recently added wanton endangerment, another felony, in the last month. Reckless homicide means Stinson’s actions caused a death. Wanton endangerment means Stinson’s actions put a person in a position of danger, which is a charge that could be brought even if someone doesn’t die. Stinson pleaded not guilty to both.

The prosecutor’s case is based mainly on witness testimony that the first-year coach ran his players hard on a day when the heat index hit 94 degrees, hard so he could, by his own statement, literally run them off the team. More importantly, witnesses testified that Stinson denied his players water — an especially key fact when a player overheats to a body temperature of 107 degrees and is declared dead three days later of septic shock.

My feeling that Stinson, no matter how much of a dick he might have been during that fateful Aug. 20, 2008, practice, will be found innocent rests on some nagging questions I have about the prosecution’s case. I’ve followed the case, talked to a Louisville defense lawyer and read court reports posted by the Louisville Courier-Journal, but I have no other special insight that leads me to this conclusion. It’s just a gut feel based on some of the nagging questions I have about the case.

Most of them surround this question: why was no autopsy ever performed? And if it were performed, would septic shock still be declared the cause of death? An autopsy might have explained why Gilpin died, and why the worst that happened to the rest of the team was one other player spending two days in the hospital for overheating.

n1604648107_131547_4523One of the big guns Stinson’s defense is pulling out is former Kentucky medical examiner George Nichols, who said he believes Gilpin’s overheating was due not to a lack of water but to Adderall, an ADHD drug that contains an amphetamine that can cause overheating. Plus, Gilpin’s father, Jeff, admitted his son has used creatine, which can cause overheating, though Jeff Gilpin said his son stopped using it a month before practice. Furthermore, in a deposition for his (and Gilpin’s mother’s) civil lawsuits regarding the player’s death, Max Gilpin’s father testified he did not hear Stinson or any other coach deny players water.

All of these things, in a case predicated on Gilpin being reckless because he denied players water, don’t look good for the prosecution.

Neither do a few other recent developments:

— The addition of the wanton endangerment charge. That’s an indication the prosecution is starting to worry that it can’t get a conviction for reckless homicide (actually causing the death) and wants to hedge itself in a high-profile case with something that seems more easily provable (putting someone in a position of danger).

— The defense just receiving the county coroner’s report declaring Gilpin’s death “accidental.” The prosecuting attorney’s office is defending  turning over that report only at the end of last week, saying it also only just received it. Stinson’s defense team took the opportunity to respond that not only did the coroner call Gilpin’s death an accident, but also that the prosecution’s usual expert in these matters also said Adderall was the contributing factor. (The prosecution said there wasn’t scientific evidence to back up that contention.)

By the way, my idiot self isn’t the only one saying Stinson stands a good chance of going free. Nine criminal-law specialists interviewed by the Courier-Journal say the same thing. From the Courier-Journal:

Regardless of the trial’s result, Stinson’s prosecution is likely to make coaches more cautious in pushing players on hot summer days, athletic trainers and lawyers say. But persuading the jury to convict the coach will be difficult, legal experts say. …

If the experts can’t agree on what killed Max, the legal authorities say, then the defense will have a much easier time persuading the jury that it can’t be certain that Stinson is criminally responsible for his player’s death.

The lawyers — four of them former prosecutors — also say it will be difficult to prove that Stinson ignored an “ “unjustifiable risk of death” — a required element of reckless homicide — given there were no other deaths among the thousands of other student-athletes who practiced that same afternoon in Jefferson County.

“There is a theory that if the prosecution needs to rely on an expert at all, it loses,” said former federal prosecutor Kent Wicker. “If there is a dispute between experts, that’s a strong argument for reasonable doubt.”

The lawyers — four of them former prosecutors — also say it will be difficult to prove that Stinson ignored an “unjustifiable risk of death” — a required element of reckless homicide — given there were no other deaths among the thousands of other student-athletes who practiced that same afternoon in Jefferson County.

“The classic example of reckless homicide is firing a gun into a crowded building and killing somebody,” said defense lawyer Steve Romines of Louisville. “Having kids run wind sprints doesn’t equate to that.”

It can be argued that if Stinson’s indictment only makes coaches (including the ones helping to fund his legal defense) more aware of their players’ welfare during practice, and keeps them from going overboard into Junction Boys-style excesses, then something positive has come out of this. Kentucky’s legislature this year mandated that all 12,000 high school coaches take courses in heat safety. If Stinson ever coaches again, you can be sure (if he has any brain cells at all) that he’ll back off some of the tough-guy schtick that suddenly looks bad when said in the presence of a court stenographer.

However, as tragic as Gilpin’s death is, and as awful as his parents must feel trying to make sense of it and find some way to make it whole, it also is awful if a Stinson had to suffer through this grind for no reason. I predict that not only will Stinson be found innocent, but that prosecuting attorney R. David Stengel — who himself used the comparison of shooting into a crowded building to justify the indictment, and who backed away from charges against another scandal-scarred coach, Louisville’s Rick Pitino — is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

Why a Kentucky football coach faces even more charges in player's death

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When I first wrote on this site about former Louisville high school football coach Jason Stinson, indicted by a grand jury for reckless homicide for the heat-related death of one of his players after a practice, I said I didn’t think he would be convicted. Even if the evidence player-thumbshows Stinson didn’t allow his players water on a 94-degree heat-index day, or even if the evidence doesn’t prove the defense’s contention that Adderall and creatine (both can cause dehydration) contributed to the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin (left), I just figured it would be difficult for a jury to send a coach to jail. (Stinson is believed to be the first high school coach ever to get charged in connection with a player’s overheating death.)

Then, earlier this week, I wasn’t so sure. Three weeks before his scheduled Aug. 31 trial date, and nearly one year to the day Gilpin collapsed during a Pleasure Ridge Park High preseason football practice, a grand jury came back with a second charge against Stinson: first-degree wanton endangerment.

Under Kentucky law, reckless homicide, a Class D felony, is when a person “with recklessness” causes the death of another person. First-degree wanton endangerment, also a Class D felony, is when a person “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life … wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” I spell this out because I had never heard of wanton endangerment until this case. Presumably, the wanton endangerment charge is related to Stinson’s alleged conduct in running end-of-practice sprints in the heat while also denying his players water, accusations Stinson denies.n1604648107_131547_4523

So if a grand jury is adding charges, maybe I’m wrong in my assertion that Stinson, who has great support from many in his community and fellow football coaches (on the right is an image taken from a Stinson support Facebook page), will not be convicted, though it’s safe to say his coaching career might be done. Stinson stepped down after his first and only season after his original indictment in January).

To get a best guess of what might be going on, and with Jeffrey Toobin out of my budgetary range, I did a quick email interview with Scott C. Byrd, a Louisville criminal defense attorney who contributes to the Kentucky Court Report blog.

T/S: I see that often someone indicted for reckless homicide is also indicted for wanton endangerment. Is that what usually happens? If that’s the case, does the additional charge mean anything?

Byrd: This happens sometimes, depending on the prosecutor and the circumstances of the alleged crime. If the jury convicted on both charges, recommended the maximum five year sentence for each, and ran the sentences consecutively, the defendant could theoretically get a 10-year sentence instead of the maximum five years for the reckless homicide.

T/S: Does the additional charge give prosecutors an out in case jurors aren’t comfortable with convicting someone on reckless homicide?

Byrd: I believe that is exactly what the prosecution is thinking. Given what I’ve learned about the case, I don’t think jurors will believe Stinson caused the young man’s death. However, I do think they will be angry with his conduct if they believe he denied the kids water. If this happens, I can see a conviction for wanton endangerment and an acquittal for the reckless homicide charge.

T/S: Should we believe that the prosecution has something else up its sleeve, and that the wanton endangerment charge means it believes Stinson’s conduct was even worse than it already thought?

Byrd: I don’t think this is the case. I know all the attorneys involved, and I truly believe this is nothing more than a political move by the Commonwealth’s Attorney to avoid a high-profile acquittal. It will certainly be easier to win a conviction for wanton endangerment rather than one for reckless homicide.

So perhaps my gut instinct was correct that a jury would have trouble convicting Stinson on reckless homicide charges. There’s something very strong about that word, “homicide.” Even if every juror had an issue with a past football coach who was a dick, homicide seems like a tough yoke to hang on somebody with a whistle and a clipboard. But wanton endangerment? Yes, if Stinson denied his players water, the word “endangerment” seems to fit better. Today, Stinson’s attorneys are scheduled to ask a judge to drop the wanton endangerment charge.

Meanwhile, the ghost of Bear Bryant states he is glad the Jefferson County, Ky., prosecutor wasn’t in Junction, Texas, in 1954, even if no one dropped dead after one of most infamous, heat-scorching practices.

Written by rkcookjr

August 14, 2009 at 2:33 am