Prosecution rests in trial over player's death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Prosecutors rested their case Monday
against a Kentucky high school football coach charged with reckless
homicide in the death of a player who collapsed at practice last
year.
Shortly after prosecutors ended their case, a judge turned away
a request by attorneys for former Pleasure Ridge Park coach Jason
David Stinson to have him acquitted of the reckless homicide and
wanton endangerment charges.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson said there is
enough evidence to send the case to the jury. The defense will
begin its case on Tuesday.
Stinson's attorneys asked Gibson to acquit the coach, arguing
that prosecutors failed to make their case. No one testified that
15-year-old sophomore lineman Max Gilpin wanted to stop running
before he collapsed or that Stinson created a "substantial risk of
death," defense attorney Brian Butler said.
"None of that's present here," Butler said.
Prosecutors told the judge enough witnesses testified that
Stinson, 36, should have foreseen that players could have gotten
ill or died during the practice. Prosecutor Jon Heck said players
ran sideline-to-sideline sprints for nearly 40 minutes in 90-plus
degree heat at the end of football practice and were told to run
until someone quit the team.
"You have kids who have never been sick before throwing up for
the first time and being called cowards," Heck said.
The charges against Stinson stem from Gilpin's collapse after
the Aug. 20, 2008, practice, which started on a day with a
temperature and heat index of 94. Gilpin died three days later at a
Louisville hospital.
Earlier Monday, jurors heard a 90-minute taped statement Stinson
gave police on Sept. 14, 2008.
Stinson told Louisville police that Gilpin didn't appear ill and
didn't complain of any problems the day he collapsed.
"He's walkin', he's breathin', he's sweatin', he never says
'Coach, I don't feel good,"' Stinson told police.
The interview, a transcript of which had been previously
released to the public, gave jurors their first chance to hear the
story of Gilpin's collapse in Stinson's own words and voice.
Stinson said he had the team run the sprints, also known as
gassers, because players weren't taking practice seriously that
day.
Stinson's account, relayed to police with his attorney, Alex
Dathorne at his side, differs on some points from the testimony of
some of the other witnesses.
Several of the football players and parents watching a nearby
soccer game have told jurors players were vomiting during the
sprints and Stinson threatened to run players until someone quit
the team.
The prior witnesses also said Gilpin collapsed at the end of
sprints.
Stinson said he never saw players vomit and that he told the
team if someone wanted to quit, to do so before the running
started. He testified that the only players who told him they
didn't feel well were having asthma attacks and he saw one player
leave the field hyperventilating. When he learned they didn't have
their inhalers, he said, he told them to sit out the rest of the
practice.
One player, lineman Christian Vincent, had testified that he
vomited during the sprints and that Stinson called him a coward.
Stinson said in his statement he let Vincent stop running because
he wasn't feeling well.
Both prosecutors and Stinson's attorneys agree that players ran
for 40 minutes at the end of practice. But Stinson told police
players ran in two groups - each group running for about 20 minutes
and doing 15 to 17 gassers each. Stinson said the players had
breaks of up to two minutes between the sprints.
Stinson said he never saw Gilpin collapse on the field. Stinson
said he was addressing players gathering for a post-practice team
meeting and didn't know Gilpin had fallen until he was preparing to
leave the field.
"I never physically see him go down," Stinson said. "I don't
know any of that's going on until after the team meeting."
After Gilpin's death, Stinson said he wondered what could have
caused the boy to die. Stinson said he looked over records of
Gilpin's pre-season physical and questioned whether the attention
deficit disorder medication Adderall could have been a factor.
Later, he said he heard the teen might have also taken the dietary
supplement Creatine and might have also suffered from a bacterial
infection, and the coach said he also questioned if they could have
caused the collapse.
"I lost one of my boys," Stinson said in the interview. "My
questions and concerns were why."
Jurors also heard from a paramedic who treated Gilpin on the way
to the hospital. Louisville paramedic Jeff Bratcher said Gilpin's
skin was hot to the touch when he was loaded on the ambulance.
"He wasn't talking. He was breathing," Bratcher said. "His
eyes were open, but he had no purposeful movement."
Prosecutors said Stinson ran a brutal practice the day Gilpin
collapsed. Stinson's defense says the practice wasn't unusually
hard.
Stinson's trial is a rare case of a coach being prosecuted for a
player's death.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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