Former PRP football coach found not guilty on all charges

Published: Sep. 17, 2009 at 7:26 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2009 at 12:15 PM EDT
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Max Gilpin (Source:
Max Gilpin (Source:

By Lindsay English - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It took the jury of eight men and four women just 90 minutes to return a verdict in the Jason Stinson trial. The former Pleasure Ridge Park High School football coach faced charges of wanton endangerment and reckless homicide for the heat-related death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin, who collapsed and later died following a practice August of 2008.

In the first case of its type where a football coach had been criminally charged for the heat-related death of a player, the jury found Stinson not guilty on both charges.

Inside the courtroom, Stinson bowed his head with relief as the verdicts were delivered. Stinson was quickly ushered out of the courtroom and did not comment on the outcome, but his defense attorneys had plenty to say. "Coach Stinson, and I do mean Coach Stinson, did nothing wrong. I mean this was a complete travesty. I'm sorry that he was ever put in this position. We are thankful and satisfied with the verdict. We're satisfied the jury listened and we hope that Coach Stinson and high school football continues to thrive," said Alex Dathorne.

Stinson's father, Don Stinson, said this year has been a difficult one for his family and he's relieved by the trial's outcome. "We come from a Christian family and we don't sit around and tell lies. You tell it like it is, no matter what the price is. Stinsons can walk down the street and never have to look over our shoulders 'cause we ain't done nothing wrong and we never will and that's my son, too."

Other friends say they couldn't be happier. "We were very pleased, very thankful. They got their life back now," said Rosie O'Bryan, a family friend.

Meanwhile, the parents of Max Gilpin, disappointed by the verdict, have to on without their son. "From the beginning, we know it was going to be tough, beyond a reasonable doubt. That's tough and we knew that. But there again, our objective is that this doesn't happen to another child or to another family. I know we've reached that goal," said Michele Crockett, Max's mother.

"We love football. I think all of us do. We didn't want to change the sport. But they shouldn't put safety above winning," said Jeff Gilpin, Max's father.

The Crockett and Gilpin families say they want Max's death not to be in vain and for this case to truly make a change on practice fields everywhere. "I do think more good will come from this trial," said Leland Hulbert, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney. "If every coach steps on a football field and now thinks about what he's doing a little bit more and now thinks about water a little bit, watches his players a little bit more, we're all better off for having this case."

Stinson's attorneys say their client would like to return to coaching, although they didn't say where or when that might be.

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

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