Coach Heads to Trial in Player Death

A former high school football coach heads to trial Monday, charged with reckless homicide in the death of one of his players, and has the backing of nearly a dozen coaches' organizations that have contributed to his defense fund.

Pleasure Ridge Park coach David Jason Stinson also faces a wanton endangerment charge in the death of 15-year-old offensive lineman Max Gilpin, who collapsed during practice while running in 94-degree heat last August and died three days later of complications from heatstroke.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reported witnesses said other players asked for water after Gilpin collapsed and Stinson called them "cowards."

Jeff Gilpin, Max's father, told CBS News he blames coach Stinson for son's death.

"It was totally preventable," Gilpin said. "And he was in charge that day."

Commonwealth attorney David Stengel told CBS, "This is not about football. This is not about coaches. This is about an adult human being who had training and who was responsible for the health and welfare of a child."

Stinson has denied being reckless.

Stinson has said, "One thing people can't forget in this whole situation is, I lost one of my boys that day."

Rodney Daugherty, who organized a Web site dedicated to raising money for Stinson's legal defense said contributions from coaching organizations from as far away as Minnesota and South Carolina have helped raise nearly $90,000.

Daugherty said on "The Early Show" Monday Stinson is a target in a battle against football in the state.

"This is the Commonwealth versus football," Daugherty said. "This is no longer about a coach. They're after the game of football at this point."

Jimmie Reed, executive director of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association, says his group contributed to Stinson's defense because it believes Gilpin's death was an accident.

"I think it's a very unfortunate situation, it was an act of God that's completely out of our hands," he said. "I don't see where, from what I've been told and read, I don't see where Coach Stinson did anything that could have prevented it."

Daugherty added, "I think every coach in the nation should be behind this guy, because this could be any one of them."

Witnesses at an adjacent soccer field the day Gilpin collapsed told police Stinson denied players water while they ran a series of sprints at the end of practice.

Witnesses who were regulars at practices told police nothing appeared out of the ordinary until Gilpin fell.

An investigation by Jefferson County Public Schools ruled out any wrongdoing by Stinson, though Jefferson Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson ruled that the school report will not be part of the trial.

Reed said coaches all across the country will watch the trial carefully, and he's fearful of what a guilty verdict may mean. "Some of the executive directors of coaches' associations are real concerned about what's going to happen with this trial because of the downfall that could come," he said. "They are very concerned about what might happen to the profession."

Daugherty said on "The Early Show" Stinson has said he wants to return to coaching if he is acquitted of the charges against him.


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