‘Blame It On The CTE’: Kellen Winslow II Seeks To Have Prison Sentence Reduced Under California’s New Reform Laws

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II has been trying to talk to anyone that is willing to listen. He recently contacted USA Today Sports from a supermax prison in Tehachapi, California.

He has been locked away since March 2019 for horrendous sex crimes against five different women and has recently spoke about getting his 14-year sentence reduced. Since learning about California’s new criminal justice reform laws, he believes his case fits under this law.

Kellen Winslow II during Jets game. (Photo: Getty Images)

California’s New Laws

Assembly Bill 124 in California says, “AB 124 also requires that during plea negotiations, the prosecutor must consider a mitigated sentence if the defendant has experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma.”

It continues to read, “The court must impose the lowest term of sentence possible if a person has experienced psychological, physical, or childhood trauma, or if they were a youth at the time of the offense or the victim of intimate partner violence or human trafficking.”

Winslow previous appeals were recently denied by a San Diego County judge. He has been representing himself but is now looking to hire an attorney.

Kellen Winslow Jr. Blames Sex Crimes On CTE

He is arguing that because of the physical trauma he experienced while playing in the NFL from 2003-2014, it was the reason he committed those sex crimes against the five women.

“They were not in effect during my trial,” Winslow said. “Now that they’re in effect, I am just applying the law.”

The one link to Winslow that could help him in his case is Aaron Hernandez. When Hernandez died in he was found to have a severe case of CTE after being convicted of murder.

Medicine has long been on his side, but league and public denial hasn’t. In the summer of 2017, McKees team studied the brains of 202 former football players after they died and found CTE in 177 of them. The NFL said little about the matter and somebody seemed to put the muzzle on Boston University, which said it would have no further statement on its findings.

Racial Justice Act In Winslow’s Favor

Winslow also has the Racial Justice Act in his corner that says, “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.” This is under California AB 256. It is reach for Winslow, but he did cite that his first trial was compelled of a mostly white jury with no Black jurors.

“If a person could show that there was actual racial bias that was exercised in the course of the proceedings, it should apply to jury selection,” said attorney Bob Sanger, past-president of California Attorneys for Social Justice, which sponsored the legislation.

What Happens Next?

If Winslow’s sentence were to be reduced, then it would have an effect on his victims. In 2019, he was convicted of raping a homeless woman on the side of a road, pulling his pants down to expose himself to another woman, and committing a lewd act against a 77-year-old woman at a gym in 2019.

He pleaded guilty to avoid going to trial again and facing another possible all-white jury. Months later, he faced another trial for raping a then 17-year-old girl in 2003. He accepted a 14-year sentence and isn’t eligible for parole until 2028.

One victim’s attorney said that she didn’t want to comment. Another victim could not be reached.

“We believe that Winslow received a fair trial and sentence for this serious sexual assault case,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Despite the statement by the district attorney’s office, Winslow still plans to file for another appeal. He was diagnosed with frontal lobe damage and symptoms consistent with CTE in 2021 before his sentencing, but there is currently no option available to see if someone has CTE while they are still alive.


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