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No jail time for Jim Leyritz in DUI crash

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – James Leyritz walked out of the courtroom a free man, relieved that the judge did not impose a jail sentence for a DUI conviction stemming from an accident in December 2007 that killed a mother of two.

Judge Marc Gold imposed one year probation, a $500 fine and 50 hours of community service. The judge issued a stern warning to Leyritz that should he violate the conditions of his probation he would be subject to the maximum sentence of six months in jail.

Prosecutor Stefanie Newman had argued that Leyritz should be incarcerated and sought a term of four months in jail and one year probation. She drew attention to a pre-trial psychological report that suggested Leyritz had a problem with alcohol based on his own admissions that as a professional ball player he drank nearly every day.

Newman also highlighted several occasions in 2008 and 2009, when the interlock device in Leyritz’s vehicle gave off warnings or prevented his car from starting based on heightened BAC levels.

Defense Attorney David Bogenschutz explained that Leyritz misunderstood the terms of his pre-trial release and did not know that he was barred from consuming anything that contained alcohol and that on at least two occasions it was Listerine and chicken wings that set off the BAC warnings.

Bogenschutz urged the judge to show leniency, arguing that Leyritz had settled a civil suit with the victim’s survivors and, against the advice of his attorneys, penned a heartfelt letter expressing his remorse over the incident.

The defense attorney also called attention to Leyritz’s extensive philanthropic work and his devotion to his three sons, eliciting testimony from Leyritz’s divorce lawyer that Leyritz is the primary custodial parent of his children.

Prosecutor Newman countered that being a parent should have no bearing on the sentence.

Two of Leyritz’s sons attended the proceeding accompanied by their mother, Karrie Leyritz.

Karrie, Leyritz’s ex-wife, was listed as a potential witness during the trial but did not testify for either side. She told In Session that she was present for the sentencing to support her sons.

“I was too nervous to watch the trial. I just felt today I needed to be here with the kids and in support of whatever happened. Today was an important day,” she said.

The judge heard statements from James Leyritz and Jordan Veitch, the victim’s husband, only after he had decided the penalty for the ex-Yankee.

He wrote down the penalty he intended to give but did not pronounce sentence until he heard from the two men. Though Gold said he wanted to hear from Veitch, he explained under Florida law he could not allow Veitch’s comments to influence his decision.

Veitch acknowledged his wife made a bad decision when she chose to drive drunk and paid the ultimate price for her mistake. He suggested that the message behind the consequences of driving drunk be given great weight.

Leyritz addressed the court, and choking back tears, vowed he would not let Fredia Veitch die in vain. He read from the letter he wrote to Jordan Veitch and promised that he would do all that he could to “make a difference.”

-Grace Wong, In Session Senior Field Producer

Filed under: Sentencing • Trials

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