Soon-to-be-former Cleveland Browns wideout Donte Stallworth was driving drunk (blew a .12 after) in Miami on the morning of March 14, 2009, and ran over a construction worker who was foolishly crossing a busy street at an inappropriate place. Stallworth, a first-time offender, was apparently driving 50 in a 40 and had time to flash his lights at Mario Reyes before the accident. As far as this Sumo is concerned, that is the extent of the relevant facts of this case.
Today, Stallworth pled guilty to DUI Manslaughter and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, 1000 hours of community service, and 10 years of probation. The statute apparently provided for a maximum of 15 years in prison. I have not found the DUI Manslaughter statute, but vehicular homicide in Florida carries the same maximum sentence, meaning both crimes are probably a 2d-degree felony. (If you believe a prison term is meant to punish a convict for his crime, it might raise an eyebrow that the culpability for voluntary intoxication is not higher than for the recklessness required by the vehicular homicide definition.)
Prepare your stomachs now against the revulsion you will hopefully feel after Stallworth gets out of jail, can’t find a football job, and whines to the media that he “did his time” and “deserves another chance.” The apparent lightness of this sentence, which he received for pleading guilty, made me wonder what kind of time he’d do if he’d killed a guy on Scottsdale Road instead of in Miami. Defense attorney friends of mine report that the lightest sentence they would expect on these facts is one year in jail plus probation. The maximum probation for manslaughter in AZ is seven years. Other interesting notes I learned: in AZ, the intoxication would not make it a worse crime unless it were REALLY bad (amounting to “extreme indifference to human life”), but the car would almost certainly be considered a “dangerous instrument” that would bump up the sentencing to mandatory prison (NOT jail).
In contrast, a friend who is a prosecutor in St. Louis, MO, reports that the sentence is on the low side of a typical sentence range for these facts in his county.
Whether or not Stallworth’s sentence is in line with what other first-time offenders in FL receive, we do know one thing: it’s lighter than this guy’s. Congrats, Donte. If you eff this up, here’s hoping you get what you deserve.
(special thanks to The Scorpion.)