Ky. report called H.S. football death an accident
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A coroner's report completed months before a high school football coach was charged with reckless homicide in a player's death declared the death an accident.
Prosecutors provided the investigative report late Friday to defense attorneys for former Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson. Defense attorneys said it's "inexcusable" they are just now getting the report completed a year ago. The coroner's finding was first reported Saturday by The Courier-Journal of Louisville.
The deputy coroner who prepared the report cautioned against about placing too much emphasis on his initial findings, saying Saturday that a lot of information about the practice wasn't available to him when he wrote it.
Stinson is to stand trial Monday on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment in the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin.
Stinson is accused of withholding water from players and making them run extra wind sprints at an Aug. 20, 2008, practice at which Max collapsed from heat stroke.
Max died three days later after his after his body temperature reached 107 degrees.
"It is inexcusable to wait over a year to speak to the coroner in this case," defense attorney Alex Dathorne told The Associated Press on Saturday. "And I find it remarkable that the coroner made the determination that it is an accident."
Assistant Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Jon Heck said in a motion filed Friday that prosecutors just obtained the report from the coroner's office Thursday. He downplayed its significance, noting that it was signed the day after Max died and before witnesses came forward describing Stinson's conduct at the practice.
Stinson was charged in the death in January.
The Commonwealth Attorney's office declined comment Saturday to the AP.
Jefferson County deputy coroner Sam Weakley's report said Max collapsed while practicing in "intense heat" and was transported with another player to the hospital, the Courier-Journal said. Max died of complications from heat stroke on Aug. 23, according to the report. Max's death certificate lists the same cause of death and complications.
"That was my best guess at that point in time. All I knew at that time was that a kid had died from complications of a heatstroke," Weakley told the Associated Press of the report. "No one had said anything to me about what was said on the school field."
Asked why he never gave the report to the prosecution or defense, Weakley said neither requested it. He said that's not unusual, because coroner's reports aren't always used in homicide cases.
"No one had asked. Real simple," he said. "I would have gladly supplied it had either of them requested it."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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