Corwin Brown claims mental defect

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Former Notre Dame assistant coach Corwin Brown officially notified a judge Wednesday that he plans to defend himself against charges of striking his wife and holding her hostage by claiming he has a mental defect caused by brain injuries he sustained while playing in the NFL and college.

Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller set a Jan. 11 hearing date for Brown's attorney and prosecutors to identify possible doctors to evaluate Brown's mental status. Defense attorney William Stanley wouldn't elaborate when asked by reporters what mental problems Brown is suffering from.

"That's why we want the examinations by the doctors," he said.

Brown, 41, was taken from his home Aug. 12 with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a seven-hour standoff with police in Granger, just northeast of South Bend.

A statement released by Brown's family four days after the standoff apologized for the disturbance and thanked authorities for saving Brown's life. The statement also said the family believes Brown may suffer from the same type of brain trauma as Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears and Notre Dame star who committed suicide in February.

The statement said Brown had become suspicious, distant, gloomy, exhausted and depressed after playing eight seasons in the NFL as a defensive back for the New England Patriots, New York Jets and Detroit Lions and playing in college at Michigan.

Brown ignored reporters' requests for comment outside the courtroom Wednesday. He was defensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 2007 to 2009, losing his job when coach Charlie Weis was fired, then coached defensive backs for the Patriots in 2010.

Stanley said he likely will take the unusual step of asking that doctors from outside the area who are familiar with brain injuries sustained by professional football players examine Brown. Chief deputy prosecutor Ken Cotter says he will wait until seeing the names proposed, and said he may suggest some doctors himself.

Brown's first scheduled court appearance in September was put on hold because he was undergoing psychological testing at the University of Michigan Hospital. Stanley said he couldn't talk about the results of those tests, saying they are privileged. But he said the plan was to file a motion of mental defect even before Brown underwent those tests.

"We can't deny what happened. It's on camera. So the whole issue is, what was his mental condition at that time?" Stanley said.

Stanley said he is not claiming Brown isn't competent to stand trial. He did say Brown has been under treatment since the standoff.

Stanley said Brown is living in Chicago with his parents, who were with him Wednesday but weren't inside the courtroom for his two-minute appearance before the judge. Stanley said he believes Brown is still with his wife, Melissa, and said Brown sees his son and two daughters regularly, especially at their sporting events.

"I believe the family is doing fine," he said.