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CRIME

Former coach appeals conviction for offering player $25 to bean 9-year-old autistic teammate

A former western Pennsylvania T-ball coach wants a judge to grant him a new trial or let him appeal to Superior Court his conviction on charges the he offered a player $25 to bean a 9-year-old autistic teammate.

Fayette County Judge Ralph Warman scheduled a hearing Oct. 20 on the request by 36-year-old Mark Downs.

Downs was sentenced to one to six years in prison for the incident before a June 2005 playoff game. Downs offered an 8-year-old player money to hit a mildly autistic teammate with a ball during warm-ups because Downs wanted the disabled boy to be too hurt to play in the game.

Downs denies that and says his remarks were misunderstood, and that the other player who threw the ball, and his family, lied about the incident.