Leyritz acquitted in Manslaughter DUI case

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Jim Leyritz has been acquitted of manslaughter, a Florida jury decided today. The jury, which had been deadlocked yesterday, convicted the former Yankee only of a misdemeanor DUI. He could face up to only six months in prison instead of 15 years had he faced a conviction for manslaughter.

Leyritz was arrested in December 2007 when he collided with another vehicle at a Fort Lauderdale intersection. The other driver was killed when her vehicle rolled over. The case agains Leyritz hinged, in part, upon the traffic light at the intersection. The prosecution tried to show that Leyritz ran a red light while drunk, but defense witnesses cast doubt on both the light and Leyritz’s BAC at the time of the crash. While he blew a 0.14 later that night, experts said Leyritz might not have been drunk at the time of the crash.

The Associated Press has more on the acquittal:

Two witnesses testified that Veitch had the green light at an intersection before Leyritz’s Ford Expedition hit her vehicle, causing a rollover crash that ejected her onto the pavement. But under cross-examination, those same witnesses were less definitive about whether Leyritz’s light was red or yellow.

Defense expert witnesses also said Veitch’s lights may have been off and that Leyritz did not appear to be speeding. They also raised questions about the reliability of Leyritz’s blood tests and suggested he may have suffered a slight concussion that caused his body to absorb alcohol more slowly.

Prosecutors insisted that Leyritz was too drunk to react to the traffic light or avoid the collision with Veitch’s Mitsubishi Montero. They said he consumed the equivalent of between 11 and 12 shots of liquor in the three hours before the crash, which happened around 3 a.m.

Leyritz had settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the Veitch family earlier this year. He agreed to pay them $350,000 as a settlement. Leyritz must have had some good lawyers to escape with just a misdemeanor DUI.

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  • Anthony

    Let justice prevail. This is why we have courts. I

  • Zach

    I followed this case from the beginning and as cold as it sounds, there’s another reason he got off.
    Because the jury had to figure out which drunk driver caused the crash. I knew the minute the jury found out Fredia was driving drunk as well that he would get off.
    Personally, I hope he gets the max jail time on the DUI charge,but I’ve seen too many horrible stories over the years (including Nick Adenhart) to feel sorry for one drunk driver taking out another.

    • nathan

      I dont recall Adenhart being drunk. Infact I was in the Anaheim area at that time and followed the case with OCRegister and other local papers, I don’t recall any mention of Nick being drunk at all.

      But more generally, one drunk driver hitting another is becoming too common.

      Whenever I see Stallworth play for the Ravens, I get reminded how money is everything.

      • Pat D

        I have mixed feelings about Stallworth. On one hand what he did was inexcusable. On the other hand, he also paid the penalty by pleading guilty. He could have tried to be acquitted, and since the victim was jaywalking, he might have been able to win it. But at least he took the responsibility and didn’t deny what he did like, say, Michael Vick.

        • nathan

          I agree the victim was not supposed to be walking on the road. Also, the victim’s family got monetarily compensated. But, if it was a regular Joe instead of Stallworth he wont be getting away with 28 days ( I believe that got reduced by 2 days for good behavior).

        • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

          Michael Vick plead guilty to funding an illegal dog fighting ring, killing dogs in the most sick of ways and later took ownership of his lying to federal investigators to try and cover it up.

          Not sure how on earth he did not take responsibility for what he did.

      • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

        Adenhart wasn’t drunk. I also believe he was a passenger. The guy who hit him was drunk, however.

        • Zach

          What I meant was I’ve heard and read of too many innocent victims like Adenhart and others to feel sorry for a woman who had made a choice to drink and drive.
          It was a choice she had made before and ended up meeting someone with a similiar mindset.

          • nathan

            The woman may hv been drunk but did she break any law, that would be my question.

            • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

              Drunk driving is against the law…

              • nathan

                Oh bad wording on my part.. I meant did she break through a red sign or a red light.

                • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

                  Did you read the article? It points out the argument each side made.

          • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

            Ah, gotcha.

  • nathan

    Have money? Escape punishment.

    • Crosetti32

      If you can afford a good legal defense, of course that helps. But, I remember reading that he and his then wife blew through most of his MLB earnings, and that during the 2009 World Series, he was outside Yankee Stadium at a table hawking his autograph. So, not sure how much money he has. Either way, it’s a tragic story on all sides.

    • Pasqua

      Every article I read about Leyritz following this accident went out of its way to point out that the guy had virtually no money.

      • Pasqua

        And, also, just a cursory look at the details shows that, while Leyritz certainly was not “innocent,” there were a lot of question marks involved in this case.

        • nathan

          Well, he is paying 350K as settlement, i donno how broke he really is. Maybe broke is subjective now :-)

          • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

            Insurance is paying for some of it, maybe even most of it.

          • MikeD

            The court ruled he had to pay $350K, but that doesn’t mean he has 350K. He doesn’t. He’s broke.

  • http://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari


  • AJ

    It seems that he blew the light, there’s no evidence in the post to suggest that he didn’t. “Veitch’s lights may have been off”? May have been? Either way, the weight is on the prosecution to prove Leyritz guilty and they probably didn’t do a good enough job. Former Yankee or not, drunk drivers make me sick. I hope he does the 6 months. But he probably wont..

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      It seems that he blew the light

      Would any of us want to be convicted of a crime that we “seem” to have committed?

      • AJ

        Right, which is why I said the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

          The burden of proof is ALWAYS on the prosecution, which I think is what you’re saying but I just want to emphasize that.

          • tom

            And, one might add, SHOULD be. None of us would want to be convicted because “it sure looks like” we’re guilty. The American justice system — whatever its deep flaws –is built on the presumption of innocence, because anything less puts all of us at risk.

        • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

          Yeah I took your post the wrong way. I’ve just read a lot of “He’s quily, lock him up” comments(not here) about this case, while bascailly just ignoring the testimony.

  • dc1874

    hey…remember the former football player who almost CUT THE HEADS OFF of 2 people..

    • Dick

      yeah, but the gloves didn’t fit.

      I mean, he was probably guilty, but at the same time the gloves didn’t fit.

  • Matt :: Sec105

    ughhh, this story makes me sick.

    • Pasqua

      Yup. And I’d like to believe that, while I’m sure he’s ecstatic about not staring 15 years in the face, Leyritz realizes how awful the whole thing is.

  • vinny-b

    the Warren Commision makes me sick.

    • MikeD

      For doing a poor job but coming to the right conclusion?

      • Dick

        all of the ER doctors that treated Kennedy in Dallas said his rear head wound was a massive exit wound, inconsistent with commission’s conclusion.

        “exiting out the back, to produce the massive injury in the head.”


  • http://www.eric-yun.com yune85

    I’m confused about the defense’s BAC argument. Were they saying Leyritz might have been at a legal level like .06, but a concussion from the accident made his body shoot it back up to .14? Is that even possible?

    • Mister Delaware

      You know, like the woman on the Taconic. She wasn’t a drinker, but maybe she was having a diabetic reaction and thought 10 shots of vodka would control it. Bullshit theories FTW.

      • J

        They likely didn’t test his BAC to some time after the accident – after the police/ambulance showed up, he went to the hospital and checked out OK, etc. That .14 is probably an estimate of what it was at the time of the accident.

        • J

          that still doesn’t make sense though

  • pat


  • MikeD

    So the civil trial was before the criminal trial? Is that normal?

    • Tom Swift

      I don’t know if there was a civil trial. The story refers to a settlement, not a trial.

  • http://www.yfsf.org AndrewYF

    No excuse for what Leyritz did, but there’s a part of me that thinks that if he didn’t take this drunk woman out, she might have taken out someone actually innocent.

    Good to see justice being served in any case. Can’t convict someone based on insubstantial evidence.

  • Donna L

    I believe Leyritz argued that he drank some vodka *after* the accident, before the test. Who knows. In any event, they couldn’t really prove how much over the limit, if at all, he was. More importantly, they couldn’t prove that he was speeding, or that he ran a red light. Obviously, if nobody was able to be definitive that her light was green, then there’s no proof his light was red.

    Driving under the influence, in and of itself, does not necessarily prove that anything that happens while you’re doing so is due to your fault. You could be driving drunk and stopped at a traffic light when somebody hits you and is injured. Did your drunk driving proximately cause that injury? I don’t think so. This case isn’t quite so clear cut, obviously, but it’s the same general idea.

    Based on the evidence I’ve read about, there’s nothing irrational or “disgusting” about the jury verdict. The prosecution didn’t prove him guilty of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt, so the jury had to acquit.

    • Zach

      Agreed, plus the DA really shot the case to hell when she allowed in testimony about Fredia’s BAC when she had been sucessful in keeping that information out.
      No jury is going to disregard the fact she was almost three times the legal limit.

      • Zack

        Indeed she did. That is the biggest gaffe by a DA I’ve seen in a long long time.
        She fought to keep that information out and then opens the door for it and the acts shocked when the jury won’t disregard it?!