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Braswell lawyer: He gave ibuprofen.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

The attorney representing a now-former Thurston High School basketball coach and campus monitor told a jury on Wednesday that her client provided a student-athlete with ibuprofen, not a prescription opioid as prosecutors allege.

Defense attorney Lindsay Fowler said during her opening statement in Jeffrey Braswell's trial in Lane County Circuit Court that Braswell did not supply a 16-year-old girl with a painkiller containing hydrocodone. However, prosecutor Paul Graebner said the evidence clearly supports the criminal charges filed in the case.

Braswell, 29, is charged with three counts of delivery of hydrocodone to a minor and three counts of unlawful delivery of hydrocodone within 1,000 feet of a school. All of the charges are felonies. Braswell, who coached girls' basketball at Thurston, previously pleaded not guilty.

Authorities allege that Braswell gave Vicodin pills to the girl three times in late February. She testified Wednesday that on each occasion, the drugs allowed her to participate in athletic events without experiencing pain.

"I had questions about what it was and (Braswell) told me it was basically stronger ibuprofen, and he assured me it was not a big deal," the girl told the jury. "He told me I should not tell anyone at all" about the pills.

The Register-Guard typically does not identify juveniles who are victims or otherwise involved in criminal cases.

A police investigation began after the alleged victim's mother discovered text messages between the girl and Braswell on the teenager's cellphone, and then contacted authorities.

Graebner said school officials subsequently found pills containing hydrocodone in Braswell's office desk, and gave them to police.

Dawn Strong, who at the time of the investigation served as the Springfield School District's human resources director, testified Wednesday that Braswell acknowledged during an interview with her and other school officials that he told the girl that he had given her Vicodin but that "he wouldn't have done it if he thought it was illegal."

Braswell never said during the interview that he had actually provided the student with ibuprofen, Strong testified.

Braswell lost his job after the allegations surfaced, and was arrested in March.

Braswell is the son of former University of Oregon assistant basketball coach Bobby Braswell. He was sentenced to probation in 2009 in a burglary and theft case involving him and multiple players from the Cal State Northridge basketball team. His father was the team's coach at the time.

Before Wednesday's opening statements, Fowler referenced in court what she characterized as "misleading facts" contained in a story that appeared Tuesday on The Register-Guard's website. The story included information about Braswell's prior arrest in the burglary case. Fowler provided Circult Judge Suzanne Chanti with official court documents that she said indicated Braswell's conviction had been set aside.

Local NAACP President Eric Richardson attended the morning portion of Braswell's trial on Wednesday. He said during a break in the proceedings that he has no opinion regarding Braswell's guilt or innocence but wanted to be in court to see if it appears that Braswell, who is black, is receiving a fair trial. He pointed out that there are no black people on the seven-woman, five-man jury seated in Braswell's case.

"We're just concerned, and we want to see what's going on here," Richardson told The Register-Guard.

Braswell's trial could conclude as soon as today.

Follow Jack on Twitter @JackMoranRG. Email jack.moran@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Courts; The former Thurston High basketball coach's attorney is disputing claims that he gave a teen hydrocodone
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 27, 2015
Words:564
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