Joined: 31 Jan 2005
|Posted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:19 am Post subject: California Civil Code §1714-Reflections (Second)
|Driver Convicted of Murder in Adenhart Crash
Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed along with two friends in April 2009.
Watch Carolyn Costello's report
SANTA ANA -- An Orange County jury has convicted a man in the deaths of rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.
The jury found 23-year-old Andrew Gallo guilty of all charges Monday, including second-degree murder, felony hit and run and felony drunk driving.
Gallo, a convicted drunk driver, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, felony drunk driving, and felony hit and run in the deaths of the 22-year-old Adenhart, 20-year-old Courtney Stewart and 25-year-old Henry Pearson.
Gallo, who held white rosary beads, showed no emotion in court Monday when the verdict was read.
His parents asked for forgiveness for their son. "I wanted to reach out and say something," said Gallo's father, Thomas Gallo. "I just hope they find it in their hearts to forgive Andrew, and to forgive our family. I'm sorry for what happened."
"He's our son. You have to do what you have to do to defend him," said Gallo's stepmother, Lilia Gallo. "We want the families to know that we are deeply mourning the loss of their children and all the pain they went through."
Nick Adenhart's parents were not present for the verdict.
John Wilhite, 25, who was critically injured in the crash, broke down in tears after the verdict was read.
"There are no winners in this situation," said Nigel Pearson, the father Henry Pearson, one of the victims, "but our families are very satisfied with the verdicts."
"It's pretty painful. We're sort of reliving the whole thing," said Areta Pearson, Henry's mother. "It's very difficult ...It's not going to bring him back. Maybe some people learn something from this."
Courtney Stewart's mother said they were relieved by the verdict and knew Courtney would be happy that justice had been served.
Gallo could face more than 50 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for December 10.
"I think it's tragic," Gallo's attorney Jacqueline Goodman told reporters outside the courtroom. "I think there's been a miscarriage of justice."
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas praised the verdict, even though he noted it would not bring back the victims.
"While we can't do justice, we can do the best we can," he said.
It was the 11th DUI-related murder conviction in the county since 2008.
"People are dying here ... These are murder cases," Rackauckas said.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial Gallo didn't care about anyone but himself when he decided to drink that day.
He "made the decision to get intoxicated beyond the point of any reason," Deputy District Attorney Susan Price said during her closing argument.
Gallo was behind the wheel when his van slammed into a car killing Adenhart and two of his friends.
Prosecutors say Gallo had a blood-alcohol level of at least .19% -- more than twice the legal limit -- when he sped through a red light a Fullerton intersection on April 9, 2009 and crashed into a car killing Adenhart, Stewart and Pearson.
Defense attorney Jacqueline Goodman told jurors Thursday Gallo did not intend to kill anyone that night and did not act with malice.
"He did it, and he has to live with that for the rest of his life," Goodman told the court during the trial. "But Andrew Gallo is not a murderer."
Goodman says Gallo had a designated driver the night of the crash, but the driver ended up drinking and Gallo took the wheel.
She also says Gallo's actions do not rise to the standard of murder.
Price says Gallo had been warned multiple times not to drink and drive because it could lead to someone's death or injury. Price said Gallo disregarded those warnings on the night of April 8, 2009. She told the court during her closing argument Thursday that it made no difference whether Gallo thought he had a designated driver.
"He continued to drink when he saw that his ride started pounding beers and shots," Price said. "The car keys weren't forced upon him, they weren't glued to his hand."
Price also ridiculed the claim that Gallo was too intoxicated to know better.
Gallo did not take the stand in his own defense, but jurors watched a videotaped police interview with him taken shortly after the collision.
In it, Gallo said he blacked out during the night of drinking, didn't remember driving and was surprised he was behind the wheel because he had a suspended license and never drove.
Gallo appeared shocked and sobbed after being told he had killed three people.
Gallo was charged with murder - and not the lesser offense of manslaughter - because he had a previous DUI conviction, was driving on a suspended license and had signed court documents in 2006 saying he understood that if he drove while intoxicated and killed someone he could be charged with murder.
In a separate ruling, the judge last week found Gallo guilty of driving on a suspended license.
The 22-year-old Adenhart died just hours after pitching six scoreless innings in his 2009 season debut with the Los Angeles Angels.