Will Kellen Winslow II use brain trauma as a defense?

Getty Images

Jury selection commenced Monday in the case against former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II, who faces a slew of sordid charges that cumulatively could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

As noted by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo.com, the defense could hinge on the argument that Winslow’s sexual misconduct resulted from mental illness sparked by brain trauma from playing football. (As noted by 10news.com, the defense plans to call a pair of psychiatrists to testify, but the substance of their expected testimony isn’t yet known.)

If Winslow pursues this strategy, he’ll essentially be admitting that he’s guilty — but disputing that he’s legally responsible for the crimes. Wetzel suggests that Winslow’s lawyers could try to blame the aberrant behavior on football.

It won’t be easy to make the connection, especially since there’s no way to prove that Winslow suffers from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, because there’s still no test for detecting it in living patients. (Even if it could be detected, there’s not enough research as to what it means to have it.) Ultimately, however, the warped reality that regularly unfolds in open court entails one side finding an expert witness who for a fee will provide testimony supporting a point and the other side finding an expert witness who for a few will provide testimony opposing that point.

In the end, the opinions cancel each other out but the jury has a vehicle for showing mercy, regardless of whether there’s any validity to the notion that football made Winslow do the things he allegedly has done.

Opening statements are due to begin on May 20, and at that point Winslow’s lawyers will begin to outline their theory of the case. Given the perils of presenting a “he didn’t do it but if he did it football made him do it” defense, Winslow’s lawyers could essentially concede factual guilt but make the trial about avoiding a finding of legal guilt, by claiming that Winslow’s actions were the product of cranial dysfunction caused by repeated blows to the head.

Will that be “bad for football” if it happens? The sports media’s anti-football crowd will claim that it is, but the reality is that Winslow’s lawyers, faced with apparently overwhelming evidence of guilt, are simply throwing the equivalent of a legal Hail Mary pass, trying to come up with something/anything that could spare Winslow from spending most if not all of the rest of his life behind bars. Whether the facts actually support the argument is immaterial to the question of whether the argument is simply the best/only argument the defense has.

18 responses to “Will Kellen Winslow II use brain trauma as a defense?

  1. We’ve become a nation who caters to ignorance and no accountability. He grew up living the life of a spoiled rich kid who felt he was above other people and the law. This defense is nothing short of pathetic.

  2. (Even if it could be detected, there’s not enough research as to what it means to have it.)

    If there’s not enough research to know what it means to have CTE, then you’re admitting that lawyers and former players are just scamming the league out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Resulting in the league watering down the spot to where eventually it will become touch football.

  3. “the defense could hinge on the argument that Winslow’s sexual misconduct resulted from mental illness sparked by brain trauma from playing football. ”

    As long as he’s locked up for life whether in prison or a mental institution that’s what’s important.

  4. The idea that experts just cancel each other out, and it comes down to sympathy is not really accurate.

    I’ve tried cases for 20 years.

    Some experts are good, and others are not.

    Some have fact based opinions that can stand up to cross and others do not.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the bars on “junk science.” The judge will have to be convinced that the views of the expert are those widely accepted. Although some judges are more lenient and others more strict, it will be interesting to see if Winslow’s expert can pass that scrutiny. As noted there is no test for the disease. As such, I’m not sure how a judge will allow reference to it.

  5. Based just upon the reports of his inappropriate sexual behavior, his behavior seems more symptomatic of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) than CTE per se.

  6. This dirt bag has been a disgrace since came into the league. Jail is where he belongs.

  7. There’s got to be some severe form of mental illness or brain malfunction, as a normal human brain simply doesn’t work the way his is working.

  8. This will not be bad for football, just like Carruth, Hernandez, and a slew of others were not bad for football. The only person this is bad for is Winslow.

  9. Who is to say if he has brain injuries that cause his dysfunction, that they were caused by football and not the motorcycle accident that ultimately torpedoed his football career?

  10. Feel bad for his father. Class act for some really good charger teams.

  11. he won’t pull this off…..BUT…if he did then every scumbag ex player will be using this for the rest of time to justify their scumbag actions

  12. Watch his interviews and you see he’s been talking crazy since he was in college. Now was that CTE back then before he even played in the NFL or was it just “soldier boy syndrome?” If all else fails he can always try the “Devil made me do it” defense.

  13. I kind of recall Mr Winslow as always having issues with rules and behavior, so it must have been his father’s concussions that were passed on to him. Maybe we can find an expert to blame his father’s NFL career for the inability to act as a positive member of society? If he is that mentally damaged that he is no longer responsible for his decisions, then he needs to be kept from society, for our protection. Instead of the rest of his life in prison, then he should spend an equal amount of time under the protection of the mental health system.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.