Nearly nine hours after his day in court began, a six-person Eugene jury found Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff not guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants and driving over the speed limit. An audible “yes!” could be heard from one of the two women who had accompanied Huff when the verdict was announced.
Even though Huff was exonerated on the charge of DUII stemming from a March 3, 2012 traffic stop, he was still fined $125 for having an invalid driver’s license.
The day began with the prosecution calling their sole witness of the day Robin Lynn Howard, a forensic scientist from the Oregon State Police, to the stand to discuss her analysis of the urine sample Huff provided.
Howard confirmed the presence of metabolites of marijuana in Huff’s system, but made sure to note that was different than typical marijuana usage.
After her cross examination from the defense side she was excused for the day and the defense began calling their own witnesses to the stand.
The first witness that Huff’s defense team chose to call was Tony Washington, a teammate of Huff’s who was with him at the party on the night of the incident.
Washington stated that he had no knowledge of and did not see Huff ingest any alcohol or partake in any illicit substances while at the party at Courtside Apartments, but did acknowledge there was a good amount of marijuana in the apartment.
Following a short recess, University of Oregon Athletic Department Medical Director Greg Skaggs, took the stand to relay his testimony about Huff’s drug test being administered in the Casanova Center the morning following his arrest.
Skaggs acts as a “family physician” for University athletes and was in attendance when University official James Harris brought in Huff for a second drug screening at approximately 9:40 a.m. Skaggs said he was with Huff for about thirty minutes prior to the test being administered and did not believe Huff was under the influence of intoxicants.
As the trial wore on, University student and friend of Huff’s, Lydia Fitiausi, took the stand. Fitiausi once again confirmed Huff’s attendance at the party but also relayed to the jury that Huff was the designated driver for his girlfriend and her group of friends for the evening.
Upon the completion of Fitiausi’s testimony, the defense called Josh Huff to the stand to tell his side of the story.
Huff told his recollection of the day and subsequent evening leading to his arrest and maintained that he only took a “sip” of hypnotic and not a shot as was previously mentioned in the police report.
He went on to say that he did not smoke any marijuana that evening but had smoked seven days previous.
Following this, the prosecution questioned the outcome of Huff’s balance test, saying that it was strange that a “world class athlete” lost his balance so easily. The prosecutor did not believe Huff’s previously broken tibia was not a contributing factor.
According to the prosecutor, the officers said Huff’s car smelled of alcohol and his eyes were glazed over. The prosecutor also called on the jury to believe in the credibility of the two officers who pulled Huff over, saying that because they see situations like that repeatedly, the multitude of their experience legitimizes their statements.
In response to this, one of Huff’s attorneys brought up a specific incident where one of the officers changed their testimony from offering Huff a coat to asking if he had one. The officer had also mentioned that she had seen Huff’s hands shaking from cold when she talked to him — the defense argued that this counted against the officers’ credibility and contributed to Huff’s balance being affected.
He also stated that Huff had told the officers that his balance was already affected before taking the test.
The defense asked that the jury not over-think the case, arguing that the video of Huff driving indicates that aside from speeding, he was unimpaired and traveling under 50 mph.
The prosecutor’s final rebuttal consisted of a brief statement about how DUII’s affect the best and worst of society and that no one is perfect. The prosecutor then said that the biggest question the City of Eugene had was whether Huff had made a mistake that night.
The jury began deliberating at 2:27 p.m. and reached the final verdict at 5 p.m.
Following the hearing, Huff thanked his attorneys and said that now that the case is over, he can finally focus on being a college student.
“I’m relieved,” Huff said. “It’s been a long journey.”