The Associated Press has reported that Dallas Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident Saturday, and teammate Josh Brent was charged with manslaughter in connection with his death. Brent was speeding when the vehicle he was driving hit a curb and flipped over. Brown was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a hospital.
A police spokesman said officers on the scene conducted a field sobriety test on Brent, and arrested him for driving while intoxicated. The charge was upgraded to intoxication manslaughter after Brown was pronounced dead.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement released by the team. “At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”
What is Intoxication Murder?
As a criminal attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana, I am only competent to discuss the criminal laws in Louisiana, but I think it is safe to say that the Texas charge of Intoxication Murder is the same as the Louisiana charge of Vehicular Homicide.
In Louisiana a person is guilty of vehicular homicide if he or she is engaged in the operation of, or in actual physical control of, any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other means of conveyance, whether or not the offender had the intent to cause death or great bodily harm, whenever any of the following conditions exists and were was a contributing factor to the killing:
(a) The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages as determined by chemical tests administered under the provisions of R.S. 32:662, or
(b) The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, or
(c) The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964, or
(d) The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.
So basically, a vehicular homicide is when someone is killed in an automobile accident, and the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Louisiana
The penalty for vehicular homicide in Louisiana varies depending on a number of circumstances. The base sentence is from five years to thirty years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Probation is an option for a sentencing judge, but at least three years of the sentence of imprisonment must be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
If the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or more, or if the defendant has a previous DUI/DWI conviction, then at least five years of the sentence of imprisonment must be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
We will have to stay tuned to see how this all plays out in Texas, but if the criminal laws in Louisiana are any indication of what is to come, the situation could be pretty serious for Josh Brent in the coming months.