Wanton endangerment charge added

Updated: August 11, 2009, 9:14 PM ET
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A grand jury added a new charge Tuesday against a former Louisville high school football coach scheduled for trial this month in the death of a 15-year-old player who collapsed at practice.

Jason Stinson was indicted on a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment, commonwealth's attorney's office spokesman Steve Tedder said.

Stinson was charged in January with reckless homicide in the death last August of Pleasure Ridge Park sophomore Max Gilpin and has pleaded not guilty. Gilpin collapsed at practice and died three days later after his body temperature reached 107 degrees.

Stinson is scheduled for trial Aug. 31. His arraignment on the new charge is set for Monday, but Tedder said it may be held Friday, when another hearing in the case is set.

Tedder said it is not uncommon for a defendant to face different charges in a case and said prosecutors would proceed with both counts at trial. He declined to discuss the case specifically but said a defendant could be convicted of both counts.

Both charges carry sentences up to five years in prison.

Alex Dathorne, one of Stinson's defense attorneys, did not immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.

The hearing Friday will address prosecutors' request that a school report on Gilpin's death be barred from trial and defense attorneys' request to bar statements from witnesses who say they heard Stinson deny players water on the day Gilpin collapsed.

Prosecutors say the school system report released earlier this month is "self serving and wholly inaccurate" because there are discrepancies between the school's findings and the police findings. They say in some cases it misrepresents what players and coaches told police in the months after Gilpin's death.

The school system's report concluded that Stinson and his staff did not break any high school athletic rules, and found evidence the sophomore was ill with a headache and other symptoms before the practice.

The defense motion seeks to exclude witness statements that Stinson called a player a coward for not finishing the previous day's conditioning drills. Defense attorneys will also ask Jefferson County Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson to exclude testimony that Stinson stopped a small group of players from getting water after running drills and called them cowards.

Stinson's attorneys say these alleged comments were not made to Gilpin and came after the player collapsed, making them irrelevant to the boy's death.

A civil suit against Stinson and other school employees, brought by Gilpin's parents, is scheduled for trial in 2010.

Stinson is still employed in a non-teaching position. He will remain reassigned pending the outcome of his criminal trial. Jefferson County School Superintendent Sheldon Berman has said if he's cleared, he will eligible to apply for a coaching job again.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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