David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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Rules tighten for former Illinois athlete charged with DUI death

A pair of University of Illinois athletes ended up as teammates in the National Football League. Tackle Josh Brent and special teams' player Jerry Brown were colleagues on the field and friends off the field until an auto accident changed everything.

Police said Brent caused a drunk driving accident in December that killed his passenger -- Jerry Brown. A chemical test showed the driver's blood alcohol content was double the allowable limit. The Dallas Cowboy was charged with intoxication manslaughter.

This is not Brent's first drunk driving charge. He entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor DUI in 2010. Brent was driving on a suspended license the night of Brown's death. A conviction could imprison him for up to 20 years.

Brent was ordered to wear an alcohol monitor after his release on $100,000 bond. Prosecutors recently called for bond to be revoked. Witnesses testified at a Texas hearing that Brent violated the court's terms by skipping several mandatory appointments with county officials.

Brent's monitor triggered positive readings four times within two months. Prosecutors could not definitively link the alarm to alcohol consumption since monitors are also sensitive to alcohol proximity and products with alcohol content like hand sanitizers.

The judge refused to deny Brent his freedom, although he did tighten the rules for the suspended pro-ball player. In addition to previous conditions, Brent was ordered to submit urine and breath tests.

The football player could argue he had no intention of causing his teammate's death. Intent influences the severity of criminal charges or the amount of wrongful death damages, but lack of intent does not eliminate them. "I didn't mean harm" is not equal to "I didn't cause harm."

The family of an accident victim is stunned by emotional and economic hardships. The pain and suffering relatives feel is magnified when wrongful death is caused by someone a loved one trusted.

Source:  star-telegram.com, "Judge orders more monitoring for Cowboys DT" Nomaan Merchant, May. 24, 2013

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