Skip to main content

Trial begins for coach accused in player's death

  • Story Highlights
  • Former high school coach is charged with reckless homicide
  • Player Max Gilpin, 15, died of heat exhaustion
  • Player's body temperature hit 107 degrees at August '08 practice
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- Jury selection began Monday in Kentucky for the trial of a former high school coach charged with reckless homicide in the heat-exhaustion-related death of a player.

Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide.

Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson has pleaded not guilty to reckless homicide.

A grand jury in January charged Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson in the death of Max Gilpin, 15, who collapsed during a practice in August 2008 and died several days later.

Stinson pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. The school has reassigned him to non-teaching duties.

The case has stirred strong feelings beyond the Louisville suburb where Gilpin died. Some say the teen's death was a tragic accident; others insist it was the result of a criminal act.

"The best example I can give you is like someone shooting into a building not knowing anyone is in there, then killing somebody," Commonwealth's Attorney R. David Stengel told CNN affiliate WHAS in January. "They didn't know they were in there, but they should have known that shooting into a building where people normally are is something dangerous."

Current and former students reacted with shock to the indictment of Stinson, a beloved coach and teacher.

"Coach is amazing," former player Casey Ford told WLKY earlier this year. "Coach truly cares about his players."

Stengel said investigators interviewed almost 100 players, eight coaches, school officials and bystanders before the grand jury convened earlier this year. A summary of the interviews was provided to the grand jury. The grand jury denied Stinson's request to give testimony.

Questions surrounding the case include what school officials did before and after the high school sophomore collapsed. Craig Webb, the school's athletic director, said in a deposition obtained by WLKY that he witnessed the incident and went over to assess Gilpin's condition.

Don't Miss

"He was breathing," Webb said during the deposition, WLKY reported. "You know, he had a pulse. And we -- I automatically thought we might have had an exhaustion situation. He was sweating profusely."

Gilpin's body temperature reached 107 degrees, officials say.

Witnesses said Stinson had denied the student water on the hot August day, WLKY reported.

Gilpin was taken to a hospital where he later died. The parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against six coaches at the school. The suit claims they were negligent in their actions and that more than 20 minutes passed between the time Gilpin collapsed and the time one of the coaches called paramedics, according to WHAS.

Stinson is the only person who has been charged with a crime.

Days after he was charged, Stinson told supporters, who had gathered on his lawn to pray, that his "heart is broken."

"Part of my life has been taken away," he said, according to WHAS. "I no longer teach, and I no longer coach at the school that I love. ...

"The one thing people keep forgetting in this is that I lost one of my boys that day," he said. "It was a boy that I loved and a boy that I cared for and a boy that meant the world to me. That's the thing that people forget. And that's a burden I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

Gilpin's parents have released a statement saying they hope they will gain access to details of the investigation, including information they believe school officials have withheld from them citing confidentiality, the affiliate said.

"We intend to closely monitor the prosecution and expect anyone responsible for Max's death to be held accountable," the statement said, according to WHAS.

All About High School FootballMurder and Homicide

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print