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Ex-Cowboys player gets 180 days jail for drunk-driving death

Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent enters the courtroom in Dallas, Texas January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone
Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent enters the courtroom in Dallas, Texas January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Stone

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas jury sentenced former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation on Friday for causing a fiery one-car crash that killed his teammate after a night of heavy drinking in 2012.

The same jury that earlier this week convicted Brent, 25, of intoxication manslaughter for the death of Jerry Brown Jr., could have sentenced him to as much as 20 years in jail.

Brent stood silently and looked at Dallas County Judge Robert Burns as he read the sentence.

Brent's mother and family burst into tears and hugged each other when the sentence was read.

But the judge had harsh words for the former defensive lineman, and for the Cowboys.

"Your actions bring shame to the city of Dallas," Burns told Brent. "Mr. Brent, you are not the first Dallas Cowboy to kill somebody with a vehicle, but I sure hope you are the last."

After a night of drinking at a private club in December 2012, Brent was driving his Mercedes at 110 mph when it slammed into a curb on a state highway, flipping the car, which caught on fire, and killing Brown, then 25.

Brent's blood alcohol level at the time was 0.189, more than double the legal limit in Texas, according to police documents.

Prosecutor Heath Harris told reporters after the sentencing: "I believe this jury found something salvageable in him, but this court's going to hold him accountable."

Defense attorney George Milner said Brent was still in shock at the sentence and has not said much.

"He certainly knows he played some role in Jerry's death and he's going to forever carry the responsibility of that," said Milner.

In testimony on Thursday, the victim's mother pleaded for leniency for Brent, saying her son would have agreed with her.

"He's still responsible, but you can't go on in life and hold a grudge. We all make mistakes and have to be forgiven. I'm sure that's what Jerry would have wanted," Stacey Jackson said.

Brent was put on leave by the Cowboys after the accident, and retired from the team in July.

Without his football salary, Brent had been working in a Dallas warehouse, packing boxes. Brent was paid $630,000 for the final year of his NFL contract before his retirement.

(Reporting by Lisa Maria Garza; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)

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