COLUMBIA, SC — Two former USC football players tailgating after the Gamecocks historic 2010 win over the University of Alabama testified the 20-year-old Gamecocks fan who was run over and killed by a pickup truck after being knocked down by an Alabama fan started the altercation that led to his death.
Twin brothers Jordin and Dustin Lindsey, who played for the Gamecocks from 2004 to 2009, both testified to a jury that Allen Martin Gasque got out of the truck in which he was riding, cursed at and then pushed their friend Curtis Simms before the 29-year-old punched the Marion man, knocking him to the ground. Thats when a tire from the truck that Gasque had been riding in rolled over his hip, body, arms and head, killing the Gamecocks fan.
Simms, who is from Mobile, Ala., but now lives in Columbia, is being tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and breach of the peace in Gasques death on Oct. 9, 2010. He faces up to five years behind bars if convicted.
The defense opened its case Friday with testimony from the brothers and fellow former Gamecock running back Mike Davis, who played from 2005-2008 and was in the Lindsey brothers truck during the incident. All three said that after Gasques friends truck stopped their truck from turning onto Shop Road from a parking lot after the game, Simms initially stepped out of the Lindseys vehicle to try to direct traffic and didnt approach the 20-year-old until he also got out of the truck he was in.
Their testimony conflicts with accounts from several prosecution witnesses in the first three days of the trial, who claimed that Simms advanced on the pickup, reached in the passenger window and punched Gasque at least once before the man was able to get out of the truck.
As the former players group tried to leave their tailgating spot after the game, their truck was cut off by Gasques GMC Sierra, driven by Adam Paxton. Gasque showed the group his middle finger, Dustin Lindsey testified. The two groups exchanged harsh words, he testified, and Simms got out of the truck to direct traffic so their vehicle could leave the lot.
As Simms got out of the vehicle, Dustin Lindsey testified, Gasque opened his door to get out, too. Dustin Lindsey said he put his truck in park and also got out, expecting a fight. He said he was just 10 feet away when he saw Simms and Gasque bump chests. Then, he said, Gasque pushed Simms, and Simms responded by knocking the 20-year-old to the ground with a single punch.
The truck Gasque had been in then started to roll off the road, and over the right side of Gasques body, Dustin Lindsey testified. Simms grabbed Gasque, who Dustin Lindsey said was conscious, and tried to get the driver to stop the vehicle.
He immediately grabbed his left hand, started punching the truck and screaming, Stop!, Dustin Lindsey said.
Dustin Lindsey also testified that Simms ran to get a police officer after the truck rolled off the road.
In cross-examination, prosecutors questioned the brothers accounts of what happened between the time when Simms opened his truck door and when the truck rolled over Gasque.
Assistant 5th Circuit solicitor Luck Campbell questioned whether or not Gasque pushed Simms before he was punched, citing an initial statement Dustin Lindsey made to police Oct. 10, 2010, in which no mention of the pushing was made. Dustin Lindsey said Simms was pushed in a statement he made three months later, but testified he was too traumatized to remember every detail for the initial report.
I was shook up there, Lindsay said of his initial statement. There were a lot of details left out.
There were a lot of details left in, Campbell replied.
The trial is set to go into its second week Monday morning.