Post-Gamecock football game death headed to trial

jmonk@thestate.comJanuary 28, 2013 

FILE

— The gruesomely violent and odd case of a man who was run over and killed in heavy traffic just after the historic 2010 University of South Carolina-Alabama football game is headed for trial today or Tuesday.

Curtis Simms, 27, will go on trial on involuntary-manslaughter charges in Richland County criminal court in the death of Allen Gasque. Gasque was run over and killed by a friend’s pickup truck after he was knocked to the ground during a fistfight with Simms a block from Williams-Brice stadium. A half-hour earlier, USC had beaten Alabama, 35-21.

Gasque’s friend, whose truck ran over and killed Gasque, was not charged.

“We’re ready for trial,” said Simms’ attorney, Johnny Gasser of Columbia. “Curtis has been looking forward to his day in court. He has maintained his innocence, and we’re looking forward to presenting his side of the story.”

Prosecutors declined comment. Assistant 5th Circuit Solicitor Joanna McDuffie will be handling the case for the state.

If found guilty, Simms could get up to five years in prison.

The day of the football game, Oct. 9, 2010, saw one of USC’s most stunning wins ever — Alabama was ranked No. 1 and USC, No. 19. Never before had the Gamecocks beaten a team ranked No. 1 in football, and by a two-touchdown margin to boot.

But for Gasque, of Marion County and apparently a USC football fan, the joy of victory was short-lived. He died of massive head injuries, having been knocked to the ground during a fistfight with Simms then run over by his friend’s truck in thick traffic near the stadium.

Simms, who had an Alabama driver’s license, was apparently an Alabama fan first but also liked USC.

According to the Richland County sheriff’s office in statements at that time, both men had been standing in separate open trucks moving through the slow traffic. Each truck had its own group of fans.

Somehow — the prosecution is expected to present witnesses to explain how the fight started — Simms and Gasque got out of their pickup trucks and began fighting, according to the sheriff’s department.

Simms struck Gasque “in the face, thereby knocking the victim to the roadway,” according to a warrant in the case.

“As a result of being on the ground, the victim was inadvertently run over by the very same vehicle he had been a passenger in,” the warrant said.

The warrant also said Simms “has been implicated in the crime by multiple witness statements, as well as his own statement,” according to the warrant.

The two men had been yelling at each other right before the fistfight started, Sheriff Leon Lott said at the time.

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