The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Jim Leyritz acquitted in manslaughter case

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Nov 20, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

I’ll let the Associated Press handle this one…

Leyritz Fatal Crash BaseballFORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A jury on Saturday acquitted former major league baseball player Jim Leyritz of DUI manslaughter, after days of testimony that centered on whether Leyritz ran a red light moments before the 2007 crash that killed a mother of two.

The jury did convict Leyritz of driving under the influence, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum six-month jail sentence. Jury foreman Brian Hall said the panel wanted to send a message that drinking heavily before driving was not acceptable — but no juror believed Leyritz had committed manslaughter.

“When you look at the manslaughter part of the case, it’s not provable either way,” Hall said. “It’s just two people who made bad decisions that night.”

On the night of the crash, Leyritz had been celebrating his birthday at local nightspots, according to trial testimony. The woman who died after the vehicles collided on Dec. 28, 2007, 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch, had gone out to bars after work and had a blood-alcohol level twice Florida’s legal limit, according to testimony.

Leyritz faced between four and 15 years in prison if he had been convicted of DUI manslaughter. The jury had signaled a deadlock on Friday, but they had been deadlocked on the DUI charge, not the manslaughter charge.

The 46-year-old former player burst into tears when the verdict was read, hugged his mother, attorney David Bogenschutz and other friends and family members. In an interview, he criticized the investigation as shoddy and the trial as unnecessary.

“If it had been investigated properly from the beginning, we wouldn’t be here,” said Leyritz, who played 11 major league seasons and hit a memorable 1996 World Series home run for the New York Yankees. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. It’s been a horrible situation for everybody.”

Defense experts testified that Leyritz may have been below Florida’s 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level limit when the crash occurred, even though it was 0.14 percent three hours later.

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.

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