Kallas Remarks: Lucky Jim Leyritz

By Steve Kallas
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As you probably know by now, former Yankee Jim Leyritz was acquitted this past Saturday of felony DUI (driving under the influence) manslaughter in a 2007 car crash that killed Fredia Ann Veitch, a 30-year-old mother of two.  Leyritz was convicted of the lesser crime of driving under the influence, a misdemeanor which has a maximum jail sentence of six months (as opposed to the maximum of 15 years on the felony).


Well, it’s hard to say.  Apparently, both Leyritz and the deceased were drunk while driving on the night of December 27, 2007.  Leyritz had been out celebrating his birthday and, according to prosecutors, had the equivalent of 11-12 shots of liquor before driving home at 3 a.m.  But Leyritz (intelligently for him, it says here) refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene.  Three hours later, he blew a 0.14, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Two witnesses testified that Ms. Veitch had the green light when she went through the intersection in her Mitsubishi Montero and was hit by Leyritz’s Ford Expedition.  Her car rolled over and Ms. Veitch, not wearing a seat belt, was ejected onto the pavement.  The passenger in Leyritz’s car testified that the light was yellow as Leyritz went through it.

On cross-examination, the two witnesses who testified that the light was green for the deceased “were less definitive,” according to the Associated Press, as to whether the light was yellow or red for Leyritz.


And therein lies the problem of the whole prosecution.  Presumably, if the light was green for the deceased, the light HAD to be red for Jim Leyritz.  But given the fact that Leyritz’s passenger testified it was yellow, coupled with the fact that the witnesses who said the light for the deceased was green could not state that the light for Leyritz was red (how could they? – stand on a corner sometime and see if you can see both lights at the same time – it’s very hard, if not impossible), this was enough (along with other testimony) to raise reasonable doubt for the six-person jury.

Frankly, there was a lot of good lawyering going on in Jim Leyritz’s corner.


It says here that he will.  He received an acquittal again, in this writer’s opinion, as a result of excellent lawyering on the part of his defense counsel, David Bogenschutz.  The fact that the deceased was drunk and not wearing a seat belt, that it was unclear whether her lights were on and the jury foreman’s statement that “when you look at the manslaughter part of the case, it’s not provable either way,” all added up to reasonable doubt and a not guilty verdict.

But given the results (a dead mother of two) plus the testimony from two people that she had the light in her favor, one would think that the judge has to send some message to the community and give Jim Leyritz some time in jail, arguably the maximum six months.


Well, Jim Leyritz has been through hell.  He disappeared from Yankee Stadium after the accident, stopped doing radio work and had to deal with a trial that could have landed him in jail for up to 15 years.

But it says here that he is a lucky man.  After earlier settling a wrongful death suit by agreeing to pay the Veitch family $350,000, he now “only” faces up to six months in prison.

And that’s a heckuva a lot better than up to 15 years.

pixy Kallas Remarks: Lucky Jim Leyritz
  • Debora Burns

    He wont because he has the Brethalyzer locking device in his car. Besides that, this was a clear case of Comparative negligence…where both parties are at fault and it is left up to the courts to determine who is more at fault and award damages based upon a percentage, if it is a civil trial, and show reasonable doubt in a criminal trial. it’s just like the mcDonald’s coffee lady…McDonalds was 80% at fault for havdeing their coffee too hot, but the woman was 205 at fault for opening the cup between her legs while driving. That is why her award was reduced by 20%. That is why Leritz was aquitted of manslaughter but convicted of DUi.

    • Robert

      Leyritz had better counsel…and a witness who was willling to lie and say he had a yellow light. Leyritz will drive drunk again…the ignition interlocks can be beaten….I wish I had a penny for every drunk who swore they’d never drive drunk again…untill the heat wears off…that is. I’ve seen it too many times with my own eyes…the overwhelming majority of alcoholics have to lose EVERYTHING before they’ve willing to make the spiritual transformation nessessary for true recovery.

  • Robert

    Jim Leyritz- Drunken Murderer. To all those folks who helped him escape justice–you’d better pray that he doesn’t kill another person over the next 10-15 years drunk behind the wheel…because you all will have to live with those death(s)…Most alcoholics don’t learn their lesson until they hit bottom….Leyritz escaped that bottom…this time.

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