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April 1, 2009

NFL receiver charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida, while MLB pitcher gets wrist slapped in Nebraska

This AP report has the latest news in yet another high-profile case which will allow me to follow more sentencing news through the sports pages.  Here are the basics involving the latest NFL star to be looking at real prison time:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth was charged Wednesday with killing a pedestrian last month while driving drunk in Miami.

An arrest warrant charging Stallworth, 28, with DUI manslaughter was filed in the March 14 accident that killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes.  If convicted, Stallworth would face a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Stallworth's blood-alcohol level after the crash was .126, well above Florida's legal limit of .08, according to results of a blood test.  Stallworth will also be charged with DUI, which carries a possible six-month sentence plus fines and community service for first offenders.

In somewhat related news, the AP reports here on another famous professional athlete getting only slapped on the wrist for DUI because he was lucky enough to avoid running over anyone (this time):

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain pleaded guilty Wednesday to a Nebraska charge of drunken driving and was given probation.  After a plea deal, prosecutors dropped the second charge of driving with an open alcohol container.

Chamberlain, 23, played for Nebraska in college.   He was pulled over Oct. 18 by police on the outskirts of Lincoln. Authorities say his blood-alcohol level was 0.134 percent. The legal limit in Nebraska is 0.08 percent....

He'll also pay a $400 fine, lose his license for 60 days and complete an alcohol education class.

Some related posts:

April 1, 2009 at 05:11 PM | Permalink


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So Doug, what should Joba have gotten?

Posted by: federalist | Apr 1, 2009 6:27:01 PM

There was a small difference in harm.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 2, 2009 9:12:03 AM

I think some (season disrupting) prison time and a high-profile shaming sanction could have be effective and just in this context (e.g., requiring Joba to be a designated driver for people at a bar for lots of weekends). Also, a significant term of community service and a VERY sizable fine also seem worth considering in these kinds of cases.

I do not know if Nebraska state law would allow for all these creative sentencing options, but the failure to make an example of a high-profile drunk driver always seems to me to be a lost opportunity that, statistically speaking, will likely cost innocent lives.

Posted by: Doug B. | Apr 2, 2009 9:58:39 AM

Not sure that someone being "high profile" is a legitimate basis upon which to punish someone. Your post seems to contemplate that it is.

I tend to think that first offenders who don't harm anyone are typically not going to get jail time. Is a change to that in the cards?

One thing that we can agree upon, Donte Stallworth (and Jim Leyritz) are in serious trouble. They should be.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 2, 2009 10:32:15 AM

For those who are interested, here's a legal analysis of the troubles faced by Stallworth:


Posted by: federalist | Apr 2, 2009 11:40:31 AM

I don't think this would've been any different if they weren't famous athletes. In Illinois if you kill someone drunk driving you are charged with reckless homicide and if you drive drunk but don't hit and kill anyone you get a standard DUI. In fact, given it was the MLB'ers first DUI, he would've gotten supervision. Doesn't matter if you are famous or not.

Posted by: ThreeSheets | Apr 2, 2009 7:33:58 PM

A couple of key points not mentioned in most news stories. Donte Stallworth flasshed his lights at the guy in the road. He was also driving at a safe speed. But, the kicker is, he is quoted as saying "I hit the man LYING in the road". Mr Reyes was definately outside of the crosswalk according to the police report.

Under Florida's comparative negligence law he might be found completely innocent and go free.

Posted by: Las Vegas DUI Lawyer | Apr 3, 2009 4:29:19 AM

Las Vegas, the SI post I link seems to foreclose the "my intoxication wasn't a but for cause of the death".

Posted by: federalist | Apr 3, 2009 3:43:26 PM

I think Stallworth got off VERY easily. He was able to pay his way to freedom after only 24 days in jail. Vick spent 2 years in jail for running a gambling ring.

Posted by: NFL Picks | Aug 7, 2009 3:04:51 PM

This is bad for a lot of reasons.

Posted by: My NFL Forums | Aug 7, 2009 3:40:35 PM

The way some of these athletes get away with criminal activity is amazing sometimes. What then do you think of the Plexico Burress Sentencing which just happened today? Concidered the Stallworth incident happened pretty close to each other I think Plexico got a raw deal hear. Donte Stallworth kills a man and he gets 24 days in prison. Plexico accidentally shoots himself in the leg and he gets 2 years. I understand that he did something wrong but I feel an example is being made of him.

Posted by: Oddsmaker Adv | Sep 22, 2009 5:33:42 PM

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