Denzel Hawthorne, 24, is scheduled to stand trial on aggravated murder and robbery charges. Whitney Woodworth/Statesman Journal
Denzel Hawthorne, 22, of Michigan is arraigned on charges of murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, at the Marion County Circuit Court Annex in Salem. (Photo: DANIELLE PETERSON / Statesman Journal)Buy Photo
A man scheduled to stand trial for the murder of a Salem father in a marijuana robbery turned shooting has an intellectual disability, worsened by repeated blows to the head he experienced as a high school and college football player, according to his attorneys.
Denzel Hawthorne, 24, of Michigan, is facing aggravated murder, robbery, burglary and firearm charges for allegedly shooting 44-year-old Brett White to death.
In the months before his three-week trial scheduled to begin April 16, Hawthorne’s attorneys have filed multiple motions and declarations claiming their client has diminished capacity and an intellectual disability.
According to defense attorney Lynne Morgan, Hawthorne played tackle football nearly all his life and sustained several “hard hits” to his head. The injuries, paired with his low IQ of about 71, could affect the admissibility of evidence, such as his confession to law enforcement.
Repeated blows to the head have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease believed to cause aggression, depression and poor decision making. The disease has been found in military veterans and athletes, including several NFL players.
Hawthorne and Eloy Carrera Jr., 22, both students and football players at Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota, were arrested and charged with murdering White in August 2016.