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Coroner: Football player's death was an accident

LOUISVILLE — Defense attorneys for a high school football coach charged with reckless homicide in a player's death said Saturday that it is "inexcusable" they are just now receiving a coroner's report that declares the death an accident.

Prosecutors provided the investigative report late Friday to defense attorneys for former Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson. The report was complete a year ago.

Stinson's trial on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment in the death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin is scheduled to begin Monday.

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, which is consistent with (prosecutors') usual expert Bill Smock making the determination that it is an accident."

University of Louisville Dr. William Smock reviewed records in the case and said Adderall, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, prompted Gilpin's heat stroke and death — not lack of water. Smock said Max's death was accidental.

But prosecutors say Smock didn't provide any scientific studies to back up his opinion.

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.

The Commonwealth Attorney's office declined to comment Saturday.

Jefferson County coroner Sam Weakley's report said Max collapsed while practicing in "intense heat" and was transported with another player to the hospital.

Max died of complications from heatstroke on Aug. 23, according to the report. Max's death certificate lists the same cause of death and complications.

The second player who collapsed at the practice spent two days in the hospital.

The coroner's office declined to comment Saturday.

However, Weakley cautioned about placing too much emphasis on his initial findings, telling the Courier-Journal that at the time, "I knew nothing about what had gone on on that field. As far as I knew, this was nothing but a tragic accident."

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.

"I would have gladly given it to them a year ago," he said.

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