Fort Lauderdale, Fla.—A jury has found former Yankee catcher and infielder Jim Leyritz guilty of driving under the influence in a crash that killed a 30-year-old mother of two. The conviction for DUI carries a sentence of up to six months in prison.
If he had been convicted of manslaughter, he could've landed in prison for up to 15 years.
Florida law provides for a DUI manslaughter conviction, when a person's actions either caused or contributed to someone else's death. Sentencing will be November 29-th.
Leyritz was celebrating his birthday three days after Christmas in 2007, when his Ford Expedition crashed into Fredia Ann Veitch's Mitsubishi, which rolled over, ejecting her onto the pavement. There was no conclusive testimony on whether Leyritz blew through a red light, when he slammed into Veitch, who, according to authorities, had been out bar-hopping and had a blood-alcohol level twice Florida's limit.
Two eyewitnesses testified Veitch had the green light at the intersection, but under cross-examination, they weren't sure if Leyritz's light was red or yellow at the time. Prosecutors said Leyritz was too drunk to react to the traffic light or avoid the collision. They said he downed the equivalent of between 11 and 12 shots in the three hours before he hit the road.
Meanwhile, expert witnesses for the defense testify that Veitch's lights may have been off, and that Leyritz didn't look like he was speeding. They also questioned the accuracy of his blood tests, suggesting he may have suffered a slight concussion that caused his body to absorb alcohol more slowly.
Leyritz settled a wrongful death lawsuit this past May, agreeing to pay the Veitch family $350,000 in insurance and personal funds.
Leyritz played 11 major league seasons, hitting a memorable World Series home run for the New York Yankees in 1996. That tied Game 4 of the World Series against Atlanta, a game The Bronx Bombers went on to win in extra innings. The hard-fought win opened the door for the team to win the 1996 fall classic, breaking an 18-year dry spell.
Leyritz also played for the Angels, Rangers, Red Sox, Padres and Dodgers.