Crime

Josh Hunter found guilty of DUI manslaughter

SARASOTA - A jury this afternoon found former Braden River High School football coach Josh Hunter guilty of DUI manslaughter in the death of his friend and assistant coach Doug Garrity.

He faces up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing was set for June 11.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys this afternoon had completed closing arguments in Hunter's DUI manslaughter trial, with prosecutors saying Hunter was driving drunk when he crashed his Ford 150 truck on the County Road 581 on-ramp at Interstate 75 on March 21, 2009.

Garrity was thrown from the truck and killed.

Hunter's attorney Brett McIntosh had mounted a reasonable doubt defense, saying the state failed to prove Hunter was driving on the night of the crash.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper testified that a passenger in the truck, Matt Braselton, identified Hunter as the driver on the night of the crash. But he testified last week that in fact he couldn't remember who was driving.

McIntosh argued that Braselton's account could not be relied on because he admitted to being "highly intoxicated" that night, coupled with the trauma of living through a violent crash.

"Everything was crushed, people flying around, things flying, things moving around in ways that are unimaginable," McIntosh said.

Circuit Judge Donna Berlin Friday sentenced James Hunter to three months in jail for criminal contempt for refusing to testify that his brother was driving on the night of the crash. After the verdict, Berlin ordered Josh Hunter to jail as well, and scheduled the sentencing.

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