VISTA, Calif. — A San Diego County judge has denied an attempt by former NFL player Kellen Winslow II to get his prison sentence reduced on the basis that physical trauma from his football career contributed to the crimes that put him behind bars for 14 years.
Winslow, a former tight end with the Cleveland Browns, had argued in handwritten briefs to the court that new California criminal justice reforms allowed him to be sentenced. But Superior Court Judge Brad Weinreb ruled against him, stating that Winslow’s arguments weren’t timely and failed on their merits.
Weinreb noted that Winslow was sentenced to 14 years in 2021 after agreeing to plead guilty in a negotiated plea deal.
“Petitioner stipulated to this exact term as bargained for and the court cannot modify the plea as stipulated,” Weinreb wrote in his court order.
Winslow, 39, is likely to appeal Weinreb’s ruling and continue his bid to get out of prison earlier.
He is currently serving time at a state prison in Tehachapi, California, after being convicted of sex crimes against five women in San Diego County. In 2019, a jury there convicted him of raping a homeless woman, pulling his pants down to expose himself to another woman and committing a lewd act against a 77-year-old woman at a local gym. Winslow then pleaded guilty to two other crimes as he faced a second trial on other charges, including raping a woman while she was unconscious in 2003.
In his bid to reduce his sentence, Winslow made arguments to the court without an attorney representing him. He cited Assembly Bill 124, which retroactively allows prisoners to be sentenced under certain conditions, such as if they suffered physical trauma or other abuse that might have contributed to their crimes before their arrests. Winslow argued his brain trauma from football contributed to it, as well as other abuse from his youth. Weinreb said Winslow should have made this argument earlier.
“Petitioner failed to raise this claim or justify this failure to raise this claim on appeal,” Weinreb wrote. “As such, this claim is procedurally barred.”
Racial Justice Act
Winslow also cited the California Racial Justice Act, which says the “state shall not seek or obtain a criminal conviction or seek, obtain, or impose a sentence on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.” Winslow, who is Black, said there was racial bias in the selection of his jury at trial. There were no Black people on the jury in his first or second trial, which was canceled when Winslow accepted his plea deal before it started.
Weinreb noted the CJRA sets forth dates when a petition may first be filed and that Winslow’s petition is “premature” because it’s not allowed until Jan. 1, 2024.
Winslow is not eligible for parole until 2028, according to state records. He was the no. 6 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft after starring at the University of Miami, Fla. His attorneys previously said Winslow suffered from symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a brain disease linked to blows to the head in football. His father of the same name, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, also claimed to have suffered brain injuries from football.
Weinreb’s order was dated Feb. 21 but was not available online and not previously reported.
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