Jury finds Stinson not guilty

Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Jefferson County jury has found David Jason Stinson not guilty on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment in the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin, one of his players at Pleasure Ridge Park High School.

Gilpin, a sophomore offensive lineman, collapsed while running gassers, a series of sprints from one goal line to the other, during practice on August 20, 2008. He died three days later at Kosair Children's Hospital. The temperature that afternoon was 94 degrees. Medical personnel testified that Gilpin's body temperature was 107 degrees when he arrived at the hospital.

The case went to the jury at 3:13 p.m. Thursday after jurors heard 9 days of testimony with witnesses on both sides. Jurors returned to the courtroom with their verdict at 4:45 p.m., just over 90 minutes after deliberations started.

Just before heading into the courtroom to hear the verdict, Stinson lead a prayer circle in the hallway outside. After Judge Susan Schultz Gibson read the decision to the packed courtroom, Stinson dropped his head in relief at the defense table. Stinson's wife, Monica, was heard crying in relief after the not guilty verdicts were read. Gilpin's parents, Michele Crockett and Jeff Gilpin, quickly left the courtroom without comment.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Alex Dathorne said the Commonwealth failed to show that anything done by Stinson caused Gilpin's heat stroke. Dathorne told the jury that Gilpin's heat illness was brought on by other causes.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jon Heck told the jury that when Stinson told his players they would run until someone quit, he crossed the line from running a rough practice to abuse.

The last witness on the final day of testimony was Dr. William Smock, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville. The jury saw an edited deposition by Smock on tape because he is out of the country this week. Smock said he has treated people with heat-related illnesses.

Smock also works with police and the Commonwealth Attorney as a consultant on cases. In March 2009, Smock said he took a look at Gilpin's medical records, not because the Commonwealth asked him too, but because the Courier-Journal wanted his independent opinion.

In his deposition, Smock said there is no evidence from the urinalysis that Gilpin was dehydrated when he arrived at Kosair Children's. He also said Gilpin's white blood cell count indicated he may have had a viral infection which could have elevated his heat stroke.

Smock said the medical record also shows Gilpin was taking the ADHD drug Adderall, an amphetamine that would hinder the body's ability to regulate heat. "In this case, I think the number one culprit is going to the use of Adderall, an amphetamine-like substance that altered his body's ability to regulate temperature."

On cross examination, the prosecution point out that Smock never considered the intensity of the practice and never looked through the police report.

Although the criminal case against Stinson is over, he still is facing a civil case in filed by Gilpin's parents over the death of their son.

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