SOUTH BEND — Speaking softly, Corwin Brown offered mostly simple yes or no answers to a judge’s questions Thursday, as he pleaded guilty, but mentally ill, to confining and battering his wife last year.
The former professional football player, who went on to become an assistant coach at Notre Dame and in the NFL, declined to speak to the media after his plea.
But during his appearance before St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward-Miller, Brown’s attorney Mike Tuszynski said that his client remembered only some of the events of Aug. 12, 2011 — which ended with a police standoff outside Brown’s Granger home, and Brown shooting himself in the abdomen.
As part of the plea deal, Brown admitted, under questioning from his attorney, to confining his wife in their home and hitting her in the head with his arm, causing bruising. He also admitted becoming upset after his wife took away car keys.
But he was not pushed to give more precise details of the day, some of which he claimed to not remember.
Earlier, Brown’s defense team had indicated that they were pursuing an “insanity defense” for their client, citing mental health issues.
But under Indiana law, an insanity defense requires evidence that the defendant was not capable of understanding his actions at the time of the crime — a stipulation that’s hard to prove, making the defense rare in the state.
Previously, Brown had been ordered to undergo a medical evaluation by two different doctors. The result of those evaluations, however, cannot be released to the public.
Miller asked Brown if he was in treatment and if he was taking medication.
Brown said that he was.
“Do you know what medication you are on,” Miller asked Brown.
Brown said he couldn’t remember.
“Do you know what it’s for?” she asked.
“Psychosis,” Brown answered.
The question and answer segment, however, was interrupted for almost 15 minutes after Brown was asked if he had confined his wife.
Brown said no, leading Miller to ask him to clarify.
“Did you say no?” Miller asked.
“Yes,” Brown replied.
Brown — who had to admit guilt to get the plea deal — and Tuszynski then left the courtroom for a private discussion.
When they returned, Tuszynski said that he had phrased the question poorly, causing Brown to misunderstand what was being asked.