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Ky. report called H.S. football death an accident

8/30/2009

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."