Former NFL defensive lineman Justin Bannan was found guilty Friday of attempted murder and first-degree assault for shooting a woman in a bizarre incident in 2019.
Bannan, 42, told police he was hiding from the Russian mafia when he entered acupuncturist Ashley Marie’s treatment room in Boulder, Colorado, then shot her when she opened the door. According to police records, he was carrying a rolled-up $20 bill containing traces of cocaine at the time of his arrest.
Bannan pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, citing – among other things – the effects of concussions and other head injuries from his career in the NFL, during which he played for five teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos.
Prosecutors argued that Bannan was voluntarily intoxicated at the time of the shooting but not insane.
A Boulder County jury returned the verdict Friday night after an eight-day trial and roughly eight hours of deliberation. Bannan declined to testify in his defense.
The 12-year NFL veteran was found guilty on four counts, the most serious of which – attempted murder – carries a range of between 16 and 48 years in state prison. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5.
“We appreciate the jury’s hard work and service over the past two weeks,” the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Our team will have additional comments after the sentencing.”
Bannan’s attorney, Harvey Steinberg, did not immediately reply to an email late Friday, shortly after the verdict was announced.
In his closing remarks Friday morning, Steinberg likened his client to a gladiator and argued that his brain is “defective” as a result of his time playing football.
A four-year starter at the University of Colorado, Bannan was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 2002 draft. He went on to play for four other NFL teams.
“In Roman times, people would come cheer the gladiators. And they were great,” Steinberg said, according to video of the proceedings published by Fox 31 in Denver. “And then when they were done with them, as you know historically, they fed them to the lions.”
Prosecutor Adrian Van Nice, meanwhile, tried to keep the focus on the victim, Marie.
“This case is about a woman who woke up in the morning, got ready for work, played with her daughter, drove to what would be her office – a place of healing – opened the door, and found her life changed forever,” Van Nice said in court.
A former Colorado State basketball player, Marie was working as an acupuncturist for a company called Element 6 on Oct. 16, 2019. The company’s offices were located in the same Boulder building that housed Black Lab Sports, a sport tech investment firm that Bannan co-founded after retiring from the NFL.
Marie told USA TODAY Sports in April that she arrived for work, opened the door to her treatment room and was immediately shot.
“There was a huge noise,” Marie told USA TODAY Sports. “Next thing I know, I’m sitting in the middle of the doorway and I’m holding my arm and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what was that noise? And why does my arm feel like it’s been ripped off my body?’
“I look over, as I’m facing you, I’m facing Justin Bannan in the corner of the room.”
Marie said she did not know Bannan personally but recognized him because he was a part-owner of the building. She was rushed to the hospital with a fractured humerus – the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow.
Marie has since filed a civil lawsuit against Bannan and Black Lab Sports. Proceedings in that case have been put on pause until the conclusion of the criminal trial.
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