SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Former Notre Dame assistant football coach Corwin Brown on Thursday pleaded guilty but mentally ill to charges that he struck his wife and held her hostage with a handgun in a seven-hour standoff with police.
In a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop a class B felony confinement charge against Brown in the August 2011 incident at his home in Granger, just northeast of South Bend. With his house surrounded by police, Brown eventually released his wife, Melissa, then shot himself in the stomach.
Brown, 42, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to class D felony confinement and domestic battery charges.
His family says they believe he sustained brain trauma while playing as a defensive back at college in Michigan and during his eight seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Jets and Lions.
Corwin and Melissa Brown were at the courthouse Thursday morning, but they both declined to comment on the deal. Sentencing is set for Aug. 21.
The plea agreement recommends a four-year prison sentence, but also states that prosecutors would not oppose a suspended sentence with Brown placed on probation.
"The state won't object to the probation but it is ultimately my decision," St. Joseph County Judge Jane Woodward Miller said. She told Brown he could face up to six years behind bars.
The agreement also calls for Brown to pay $4,471 in restitution to the St. Joseph County police department and $3,763 to the Mishawaka police department.
Miller reiterated that a psychiatrist and a psychologist were divided on whether Brown had been mentally competent at the time of the standoff. She said they weren't asked about his competency to stand trial. Miller has ordered those doctors' reports sealed.
Brown, wearing a blue shirt, dark blue pants and a white coat, told Miller during questioning that he was under a doctor's care in Chicago and was taking medications for psychosis. He said he couldn't recall which types of medications he was on. He said he was able to understand what was going on and that the medications weren't clouding his judgment.
Under questioning from defense attorney Mike Tuszynski, Brown said he couldn't recall everything that happened during the standoff and that he had not kept his wife confined in the house, forcing a brief suspension of the proceedings.
Brown and Tuszynski consulted privately, then the former coach returned to the courtroom and said he pushed his wife inside the house after she called the police. He said he tried to pull her upstairs and that this caused her discomfort or pain.
"At some point she was blocking the door and your arm made contact with her head?" Tuszynski asked.
"Yes," Brown replied.
He said their two children were present during the incident.