Jim Leyritz has been acquitted of DUI manslaughter charges.
Let’s get something out of the way right off the top: binge drinking is a disease. I feel for those that are alcoholics. Those that come out of the dark grip of alcoholism do so when there is a point where they say, “I’ve had enough. This lifestyle is destroying me.”
Some will say that it takes a tragedy, which could well be the case of former New York Yankee catcher, Jim Leyritz.
It’s just been reported that a jury that was deadlocked in Leyritz’ vehicular DUI manslaughter trial yesterday, broke the lock today and he has been acquitted of those charges. Instead, Leyritz was convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence, which at max has a 6 month jail sentence. If convicted on the manslaughter charges it could have been up to 15 years.
The case was a difficult one… Was Leyritz really over the legal limit in January of 2007 when the incident happend? Did he run a red light? What is known is that the victim, 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch was drunk, more than twice the legal limit when Leyritz hit her car, ejecting her from the vehicle.
Initially, Leyritz refused a breathalyzer but then agreed to after hearing that Veitch had died due to injuries from the accident.
In May of this year, he settled a civil suit with the family of Veitch for $350,000.
Leyritz has said that he has had a drinking problem, admitted to using amphetamines when he was hung over and asleep in front of his locker with the Yankees when he was told he was going to be playing. Who knows if he took them regularly. He also admits that he used hGH, something that other players have done, and may still be doing.
Leyritz should look to the heavens and thank his lucky stars. He should, if he hasn’t done so already, look in the mirror and say, “I’ve had enough. This lifestyle is destroying me.” Considering the gravity of the event, having the judge sentence Leyritz to jail time seems appropriate. If being involved in an incident that killed someone isn’t enough, what is? Leyritz should consider speaking to teens about his experience, and how it’s destroyed not only the family of the victim, but likely him. In a society that idolizes sports figures, it would serve as a cold slap to at-risk kids by saying, just because you’re successful in one field of another doesn’t mean that alcohol can’t destroy your life. At the very least, should the urge to drink ever strike him again, be made to see images of Veitch, both dead, but also with her family. If that doesn't make one go cold turkey, then nothing will... except maybe a prolonged jail sentence.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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