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Toxicologist: Leyritz's blood alcohol under legal limit


Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Evidence in the DUI manslaughter case against James Leyritz closed Wednesday without testimony from the ex-Yankee who claims he was sober at the time he was involved in a fatal crash that killed 30-year-old Fredia Veitch.

The defense rested after the testimony of Forensic Toxicologist Dr. Stefan Rose, who revealed on cross-examination that Leyritz told him he had consumed a total of seven drinks in the hours before a collision that killed a mother of two.

Rose testified that despite the volume of alcohol consumed, Leyritz was still under the legal limit at the time of the crash, when he considered certain factors like Leyritz’s weight, the food he ate and the absorption rate for each drink. Under Rose’s formulas, he calculated Leyritz’s BAC to be anywhere from .06 to .07 at the time of the crash.

“What matters is the absorption interval. Those drinks were in Mr. Leyritz’s stomach and not in his blood stream,� said Dr. Stefan Rose. “The alcohol had not gone into his blood stream until after the crash, so it’s not affecting him; not raising his BAC, there’s no contributory effect on his brain or body.�

On cross-examination, Stefanie Newman suggested the expert’s calculations were contrived to get a favorable result for the defendant, furthermore they were inconsistent with the expert’s opinion that Leyritz suffered a brain injury that slowed his gastric emptying, so his BAC would not be rising after the crash as Rose’s mathematical model charts apparently reveal.

Newman also suggested that the expert was relying on the defendant’s self reporting and that he may have minimized the number of drinks he actually consumed as he did when he told the arresting officer that he had a “few drinks.�

On redirect, Rose described creating as many as 20 different scenarios before coming up with two scenarios that would make Leyritz’s .14 reading at 6:10 a.m. fit within a mathematical model. Rose insisted that his calculations were based on the same variables the State used, and that part of his work was geared toward shedding light on how skewed BAC levels can be, based on a number of factors making the kind of retrograde extrapolation of Leyritz’s BAC level at the time of the crash unreliable.

The State called Marla Carroll as its rebuttal witness to challenge the defense’s position that the accident happened sometime between 3:07 and 3:08 a.m.

The defense relied on a police surveillance video to estimate the time of the crash. One of the measures the defense’s expert relied on was the video’s recording speed of nine frames per second.

Carroll testified that the original recording was overwritten, and the copy downloaded from the computer was compromised because it had been converted into a different format changing the video’s quality and properties.  She said that the copy—an AVI file bore no time stamp and any time assigned to the video was fabricated, making the video unreliable.

The defense countered that the police officer who downloaded the video, extracted a segment that reflected the time period in which the collision occurred and believed that the victim’s car had been detected. The defense also suggested that other evidence corroborated the accuracy of the video.

-Grace Wong, In Session Senior Field Producer

Filed under: Trials

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