Lawyers claim football affected man accused of killing
Salem, Ore. – A Michigan man accused of shooting to death an Oregon man has an intellectual disability that was exacerbated while playing football in high school and college, his attorneys said.
In multiple motions and declarations filed ahead of Denzel Hawthorne’s trial scheduled later this month, his attorneys claim the man has diminished capacity that could affect proceedings, the Statesman Journal reported Thursday.
Hawthorne, 24, is charged with aggravated murder, robbery, burglary and firearms violations stemming from the death of 44-year-old Brett White in August 2016.
From playing football over the years, Hawthorne sustained several blows to his head, defense attorney Lynne Morgan said. The brain injuries paired with his low IQ could affect the admissibility of evidence, such as his alleged confession to police, she said.
Hawthorne and Eloy Carrera, 22, drove from Salem, Oregon, to collect a drug debt from the White’s son, authorities said. Both men were players on the football team for Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota.
Months before the deadly encounter, authorities said Hawthorne bought marijuana through White’s son. Sometime before the shooting, Hawthorne sent $1,600 to buy more, but the marijuana was never mailed.
The pair barged into White’s home, demanding marijuana, authorities said. White later charged at Hawthorne, and he fired a handgun, shooting White in the head.
The pair was arrested the next morning at a motel in Woodburn.
Carrera pleaded guilty to murder and robbery in February. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Hawthorne has pleaded not guilty.