Trial begins in Tabor College player's death

McPHERSON, Kan. (AP) -- Jurors were offered conflicting accounts during opening statements of what happened during a fight last year outside a drinking party that led to the death of a drunken 26-year-old Tabor College football player.

McPherson County Attorney David Page told the jury Monday that Brandon Brown was outside the party at a McPherson duplex about 4 a.m. on Sept. 16 when Alton Franklin, a former McPherson College football player from Texas, attacked him. Prosecutors contend Franklin punched Brown in the head while another McPherson College player held him down.

The Hutchinson News ( ) reported that defense attorney David Harger denied Franklin hit Brown while he was on the ground. He told jurors if they believe Franklin hit Brown at all, they also would have to determine if his actions were anything other than self-defense or defense of others.

Franklin, 19, of Dallas, is charged with second-degree murder. He's accused of unintentionally but recklessly killing Brown, or aiding and abetting the killing, under circumstances of "extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Brown, a Tabor College red-shirt defensive lineman from Sacramento, Calif., died Sept. 22 from injuries sustained in the altercation. A medical examiner testified during an earlier preliminary hearing that he died from blunt force trauma to the head, with alcohol poisoning a contributing cause.

The prosecution contends the intoxicated Tabor College player was picked out as an "easy target" and that the rival player from McPherson "out of nowhere sucker-punched him," starting the fight. But the defense contends Brown and two other Tabor College players were disruptive and fighting among themselves and with others during the party at the home of Demarcus Trotter, captain of the McPherson College football team.

Both sides agreed partygoers told the Tabor players to leave, and that stab marks from a knife were found on the front door. The defense attorney, Harger, told jurors that witnesses saw Brown with a knife. The other Tabor player, Ilai Eteaki, threw a "for sale" sign at the front window, breaking it.

Where prosecutors and defense lawyers differ is on the altercation between Brown and Franklin. Page contended Brown was "minding his own business" watching Trotter when he was attacked by Franklin. Prosecutors also say neighbors will testify they saw two or three people hitting and kicking a man on the ground.

Harger contended DeQuinte Flournoy held Brown on the ground, but that he was only holding him until police arrived and nobody hit him while he was on the ground.

Harger also took issue with the prosecution's assertion that Franklin picked Brown out as an "easy target," noting Brown was 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 240 pounds. The defendant is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 197 pounds.

Flournoy pleaded no contest last week to a reduced charge of aggravated battery and is expected to testify against his former teammate.