Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown pled guilty but mentally ill on Thursday to two felony charges stemming from a police standoff at his South Bend, Ind., home last August, in exchange for having a third felony charge dropped.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, the 42-year-old Brown could face up to six years in prison for confinement and domestic battery -- both Class D felonies -- though the defense has requested a suspended sentence and probation.
In the plea agreement, Brown admitted to hitting his wife in the head and confining her to their home with a handgun on Aug. 12, 2011, a dispute that then escalated into a seven-hour standoff with police responding to a 9-1-1 call. Brown surrendered shortly before 8 p.m. that night and was subsequently rushed to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was charged with two counts of confinement and one of domestic battery less than a week later.
On the same day he was charged, Brown's family said in a statement that it believes he is suffering from brain damage as a result of his decade-long football career at Michigan and with the NFL's Patriots, Jets and Lions.
"We believe Corwin is suffering from symptoms similar to those experienced by the late Dave Duerson and were caused by the many notable collisions during Corwin's career in the NFL," the statement read, comparing Brown to the former Notre Dame and Chicago Bear great who committed suicide in February 2011 by shooting himself in the chest, to preserve his brain for research. "For those reasons, Corwin chose to not disclose his symptoms, as he did not want to bring shame to any coach, team, organization, or the NFL."
Brown's attorneys argued their client doesn't remember much of that day as a result of mental illness, and a prosecutor confirmed after the hearing that, by accepting the plea, the state acknowledges that mental illness or disease may have played a role in the incident. Though they are formally requesting a four-year sentence as part of the agreement -- two years on each charge -- prosecutors are not contesting the defense's recommendation for a suspended sentence and probation.
Brown has been evaluated by two different doctors under court order, but the results cannot be released. During questioning on Thursday, he told St. Joseph County Judge Jane Woodward-Miller that he was on medication for "psychosis." Woodward-Miller will decide whether to accept the plea on Aug. 21.