SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Former NFL player and assistant coach Corwin Brown received a suspended four-year sentence Tuesday for striking his wife and holding her hostage during a police standoff, after his wife said sending him to prison would do more harm to him and their family.
Brown, 42, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in June to felony confinement and domestic battery as part of a plea agreement. He gave a tearful apology Tuesday to the court, the lawyers involved and his family. His wife, Melissa, handed him a tissue and rubbed his arm as he spoke.
"I have a long way to go," Brown said. "It's disappointing I put you guys in this situation."
St. Joseph County Judge Jane Woodward Miller sentenced Brown to consecutive two-year prison sentences, which she suspended and placed him on probation. Neither Brown nor his wife commented after the sentencing.
Melissa Brown told Miler during the hearing that Brown is "getting better."
"We're starting to rebuild our life with our children," she said.
Brown, the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 2007 to 2009, was taken from his home Aug. 12, 2011, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a seven-hour standoff with police in Granger, just northeast of South Bend.
Relatives said previously that they believed Brown sustained brain trauma while playing as a defensive back at college in Michigan and during his eight seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Jets and Lions. But at the sentencing Tuesday, his attorney, William Stanley, told Miller that should not be taken into consideration.
"I didn't think it was an issue. I think things get lost," Stanley said later, outside court. "I think the real issue before the court today was what was best for the community, what was best for the family and what was best for him. I didn't want to cloud it with any discussions about the perils of playing football and concussions or anything else we read about. If that's an issue, it will come up later on."
Melissa Brown said her husband's mental health had been deteriorating for a while. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ken Cotter said he normally would seek prison time in such cases, but he agreed to no prison time after talking with Melissa Brown and Brown's doctors.
At one point, when Cotter referred to Melissa Brown as the victim, she said: "I don't consider myself the victim."
Brown moved back in with his wife and three children in their Granger home about a month ago, Stanley said.
"Being back with his family is just as important as the counseling and the medication," he said.
Miller ordered Brown to continue counseling and take any medications prescribed as part of his probation. She also told him he couldn't own a gun and ordered him to pay more than $8,000 in restitution to two police departments that responded to the standoff.