Ky. Football Coach Acquitted in Player's Death

Max Gilpin, 15, collapsed during practice in 2008.

Sept. 17, 2009— -- A former Kentucky high school football coach was acquitted Thursday in the death of a player who collapsed during practice in August of 2008.

Jason Stinson was facing reckless homicide and wanton-endangerment charges in connection with 15-year-old Max Gilpin's heat-stroke death.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours before unanimously finding him innocent on both counts.

The prosecution had attempted to paint the coach as obsessed with winning at any cost.

They said the players from Louisville's Pleasure Ridge Park High School were in full gear, and several of them, including Gilpin, were denied water and told to keep running wind sprints -- called "gassers" -- in 94 degree heat, even after vomiting. When Gilpin collapsed, prosecutors said Stinson did nothing and "never got within 10 feet of Max Gilpin."

Gilpin died three days later.

"Who started this barbaric practice?" prosecutor Leland Hulbert said. "Who made them run more gassers than they ever have run all year? Coach Stinson."

The defense said the boy's death was not Stinson's fault, saying instead that the amphetamine Adderall, the medication that Gilpin was taking to battle attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, caused him to overheat. The boy's body temperature was 107 degrees when he collapsed.

"Amphetimines affect the body's ability to do the thermal regulation," defense attorney Brian Butler said in court Tuesday. "This has been nothing but a witch hunt by these people."

"This man is innocent!" Butler yelled.

Stinson's trial is believed to be the first in which a coach has faced criminal charges for working his players too hard, and other coaches say it could have a chilling effect on their profession.

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