Coach Pat Hill Takes Stand

June 2, 2008 8:23:13 PM PDT
Fresno Sate's head football coach testified on Monday in the case against one of his former players who is also a future NFL player. Coach Pat Hill said this was his first time testifying in any case. Former Bulldog Jason Shirley is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and crashing into an apartment complex. Jurors and Coach Hill watched video of Shirley playing football-a moment the defense claimed changed everything. Coach Hill's testimony was brief but he brought jurors back to October 2007. Fresno State football players were out of town playing against the University of Nevada, Reno. During this game, Jason Shirley suffered a concussion. Coach Hill testified, "I didn't notice him hit the ground on that play, but I noticed the fumble. All I was told is Jason wouldn't be able to participate the rest of the game."

Two days after the Reno game, Shirley slammed a car into a Northeast Fresno apartment. Defense attorney Charles Magill is trying to convince a jury the concussion clouded Shirley's mind. Magill said, "When he backed vehicle up and he thought he hit a curb but in fact struck a building that is explained by the concussion-misunderstanding what is going on and then leaving the scene."

Bulldog's team doctor William Carveth supported the defense. The doctor said he upgraded Shirley's concussion from mild to moderate. Carveth said, "He had more complaining on follow up exams 2 weeks later which made us think, it is probably more of a moderate concussion because he wasn't recovering." But the prosecutor pointed out, a moderate concussion is not considered a serious head injury.

On Tuesday, jurors will hear closing arguments. Then they will begin deliberating. If convicted, Shirley could face up to a year in jail


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