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Ex-NFL Player Pleads Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity For Allegedly Shooting Woman While Claiming To Be Hiding From ‘Russian Mafia'

Justin Bannan allegedly shot Ashley Marie in the shoulder while hiding out in a dark room at Black Lab Sports in Boulder, Colorado last October.

By Gina Tron

A former NFL player has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity for a shooting that wounded a woman who worked in the same building as him.

Justin Bannan, a former Denver Broncos and University of Colorado defensive lineman, entered the plea Thursday, KDVR in Denver reports. In October 2019, he allegedly walked into the warehouse at Black Lab Sports in Boulder and shot Ashley Marie in the right shoulder. She survived her injuries.

Bannan, 41, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and burglary in connection with the incident, the Denver Post reported last year. He was released soon after on a $500,000 bond.

The two were only distant acquaintances, according to the Denver Post. Investigators noted that both Bannan and Marie worked in the same building, which Bannan partially owns. Bannan is a co-founder of Black Lab Sports. Marie worked at health and fitness company Element 6, located in the same building, which is not affiliated with Bannan’s company. 

Justin Bannan

Bannan was hiding in a dark room of the warehouse when he allegedly shot Marie. She recounted the shooting to KDVR Thursday.

“I said, ‘What the f--k? You just shot me,’” she said. “And he said, ‘I’m sorry, the Russian mafia is after me.'”

Bannan’s lawyer claims the shooting was an accident and said his client needs brain surgery. When Bannan was arrested, he allegedly told an investigator that he suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.

“I know what it’s like to suffer from neuro-cognitive issues, so maybe that’s at play,” Marie, who is also suing Bannan in civil court, told KDVR. “Still doesn’t feel like it excuses his actions that day in any way.”

A $20 bill with cocaine residue on it was also allegedly found in Bannan’s possession during his arrest. 

A judge ordered Bannan Thursday to undergo a mental evaluation at a nearby state hospital within 30 days.

Bannan spent 11 years in the NFL and played two stints with the Denver Broncos, the last of which ended in 2012. His professional football career ended in September 2013 when the Detroit Lions released him.

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