Coach on Trial: Is He Responsible for His Player’s Death?

By Sadie Bass

Sep 17, 2009 4:03pm

ABC's Eric Horng reports from Louisville: The defense for coach Jason Stinson delivered its closing first.  Attorney Alex Dathorne spoke for about an hour and a half and said Stinson "did nothing different than any other coach…in this commonwealth" during the practice in question on 8/20/08.  The heat index that day was 94-degrees, and Stinson — apparently angry because players were giving a lackluster effort during practice — ordered his team to do extra windsprints.  During the two-week trial, witnesses testified that Stinson hurled insults and pressured players to keep running, even after some of them started vomiting and crying.  Two players collapsed — one of them was15-year-old Max Gilpin, whose body temperature that day topped 109 degrees.  He died three days later. The defense argued the ADHD medicine Gilpin was taking Adderall contributed to his overheating. And other witnesses, including Gilpin's stepmother, testified the sophomore lineman was feeling sick even before the practice. The defense also called to the stand several players who said they were allowed to rest in between windsprints and given water prior to running. "Football itself is a risk-factor," said Dathorne in his closing. "Football players get sick. It's a violent sport."
In their hour-and-forty-minute close, the prosecution painted Stinson as an out-of-control rookie coach whose training methods were "wrong on so many levels." "This is why we're here," said prosecutor Jon Heck, holding up a photo of Gilpin. "He was run to death. He needed a break." Stinson is charged with reckless homicide and wanton endangerment. Yesterday, the judge said the jury can only convict on one-or-the-other, but not both. If convicted, Stinson faces up to 5 years in prison. Update 4:54pm:  The jury in the case has found Stinson not guilty.  Do you agree with the verdict?  Chime in and tell us your thoughts…

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