Ex-Yankee Catcher On Trial In Florida DWI Manslaughter Case

Former New York Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz is presently on trial in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom accused of vehicular homicide and drunk driving. The charges arise out of an accident at 3:30 AM on December 28, 2007 in which Leyritz is accused of having disregarded a red light and striking a SUV driven by Fredia Ann Veitch. Ms. Veitch died as a result of her injuries at the age of 30.

Leyritz had apparently been out celebrating his birthday earlier that evening with tequila shots and Grey Goose vodka. He had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.14, almost twice the legal limit. Leyritz pled not guilty to the charges. He faces a sentence of as much as 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

During testimony on November 1, 2010, Garth Henry, a witness who was walking by the intersection, testified that Leyritz was “trying to catch a yellow light he wasn’t going to make”. However, Henry was forced to admit on cross examination that he did not look up until he heard the sound of screeching brakes. There were also no skid marks at the intersection, suggesting that both vehicles had gone past the light before they applied their brakes.

Prosecutors have indicated that they have witness testimony from a passenger in Leyritz’ car who will confirm that he did not stop for the red light. Supposedly, Ms. Veitch was also intoxicated and texting at the time of the accident. However, the judge has ruled that the jury will not hear that evidence, as the issue remains whether Leyritz was intoxicated and ran the red light.

Leyritz’ attorney claims that a police detective will testify that Leyritz was not slurring his words or losing his balance when he was given field sobriety tests at the scene. However, the prosecutor told jurors that the police video of the field sobriety tests will show that Leyritz could not follow instructions, another sign of intoxication that the tests are designed to elicit.

If Leyritz were convicted in of New York vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, he would be facing a 1 to 7 year prison term for this Class D felony. As for for the DWI charges, Leyritz would lose his license for at least 6 months, be required to undergo alcohol assessment, have to take the 7 week New York State Drinking Driver Program, attend one session of a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel, pay Court fines of at least $900.00, and pay the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) a $750.00 “Driver’s Responsibility Assessment.” Further, he would have to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he owns or operates for at least 6 months.

Contact the Westchester County DWI Attorneys at The Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 if you or a loved one is charged with any drunk driving offense or other crime for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.