Deliberations underway in ex-NFL player's crash trial

DALLAS – Deliberations are underway in the intoxication manslaughter trial of former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent.

Jurors deliberated for about three-and-a-half hours Tuesday and were scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Brent faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors accuse the former defensive tackle of drunkenly crashing his Mercedes in suburban Dallas after a night out in December 2012, killing his good friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

Brent's attorneys say he wasn't drunk and questioned the basis for the state's case, including blood testing and other evidence that suggested Brent may have had as many as 17 drinks on the night of the wreck.

Authorities say Brent's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors called on the jury to send a message about the serious nature of Brent’s alleged crime, saying drunken drivers put the public in danger.

Prosecutor Jason Hermus stood in front of Brent, hit the table and shouted, "They shouldn't be driving, no exceptions, no excuses!"

Hermus replayed police dash cam video of Brent losing his balance and stumbling as he tried to walk in a straight line. He referenced footage of Brent telling an Irving police officer that he was "buzzed" and nightclub security video that appears to show Brent holding up two bottles of Champagne.

"You can see with your own eyes, time and time and time again, that he is not normal," Hermus said.

Prosecutor Heath Harris held up an undamaged glass bottle of unopened Cognac found in the wrecked Mercedes. He stood next to Brent, raised the bottle as if to chug from it and told jurors that on that night, Brent was "in the club, turning it up."

"This is almost like a poster child case for intoxication manslaughter," Harris said.

Brent's attorneys argued that prosecutors were misleading the jury. They cited a defense expert's testimony that the Dallas County crime lab had used expired fluid to process Brent's blood and came up with an incorrect result.

"In the history of mankind, there has never been created such a thing as an infallible machine," defense attorney Kevin Brooks said. "It doesn't exist. Has never existed. Planes crash. Computers don't boot up. Cars stop running."

George Milner, another of Brent's attorneys, told jurors they had sworn at the start to keep an open mind about the case and called on them to remain skeptical and acquit Brent.

"You will not then be able to go back in time and correct a mistake if you make it now," Milner said. "There is no going back in time."