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|San Gabriel man convicted of murder in connection with crash that killed Angels pitcher
A jury finds Andrew Thomas Gallo guilty of second-degree murder in the April 2009 crash that killed Nick Adenhart just hours after he had made his first start of the season for the Angels. Two other people also were killed.
[Photo unable to be reproduced]
Andrew Thomas Gallo, right, is shown with defense attorney Randall T. Longwith in June 2009. Gallo was convicted of second-degree murder in the April 2009 hit-and-run crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. (Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times / September 28, 2010)
By Paloma Esquivel
September 28, 2010
A 23-year-old San Gabriel man was found guilty of murder Monday in connection with the DUI crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.
Andrew Thomas Gallo was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run in the April 9, 2009, crash, which shocked people across the country when it occurred just hours after Adenhart made his first start of the season for the Angels, pitching six scoreless innings.
Courtney Stewart, 20, a student and former cheerleader at Cal State Fullerton, and Henry Pearson, 25, a law school student who was building a sports management business, also were killed.
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"It's a stitch in a wound that's never going to heal," said Chris Stewart, Courtney's father. "But at least it's over."
Stewart's family has been in court almost every day. Her mother wore a pink bracelet, and relatives wore pink clothing as a way of remembering Stewart, whose favorite color was pink.
Adenhart's family did not attend the trial.
Moments after the verdict was read, Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the crash, bowed his head and cried in his seat two rows behind the defendant.
Across the aisle, Gallo's father and stepmother watched quietly as their son was led from the courtroom by Orange County sheriff's deputies. Gallo looked back at them twice, then turned and for a few seconds looked at the victims' families crying and hugging one another.
After leaving the courtroom, the families and prosecutors delivered a clear message.
"People will be prosecuted for murder when they engage in this type of conduct," said Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.
"The gas pedal on an auto in the wrong hands is as dangerous as the trigger on a gun," said Nigel Pearson, Henry's father. "In the wrong hands, it can devastate the lives of many, many people."
Jurors, who deliberated a little more than one day, said their decision was not immediately clear.
The jury was split 9 to 3 on the first day of deliberations, with the minority questioning whether Gallo's actions met the standard of second-degree murder, jurors said.
The question, said juror Dennis Rooney, was: "Did he do this consciously?"
Gallo had been convicted of driving under the influence three years before the crash and was still on probation when it occurred. A test conducted a couple of hours after the crash showed Gallo had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit for driving, officials said.
During the trial, prosecutor Susan Price showed video of Gallo and his stepbrother drinking heavily in a West Covina bikini bar before the crash. The two could be seen giving each other high-fives and hugging each other.
"He did shots knowingly," Rooney said. "He had the opportunity to call a taxi, call his girlfriend, do something. He didn't have to drive."
Some jurors expressed a measure of sympathy for Gallo, who was 22 at the time of the crash and had tried before to stop drinking, and for his family.
"He's young," juror Randy Fields said. "But on the other hand, he had two opportunities to get his act together and he didn't."
Gallo's father and stepmother left shortly after their son was taken out of the courtroom. But they stopped briefly to speak with reporters on the way to the parking lot.
During the trial, said Thomas Gallo, he sat near the victims' families many times.
"I wanted to reach out and say something. But I knew I couldn't," he said.
"Our family is sorry for all that happened," he said. "If this serves them as justice, so be it."
Gallo's sentencing is set for Dec. 10. He faces 50 years to life in prison.
Copyright � 2010, Los Angeles Times
Angels hope verdict will bring closure
Former teammates of the late Nick Adenhart have mixed feelings about Andrew Gallo being found guilty of murder.
It was 108 degrees in Anaheim on Monday, but Bobby Wilson was practically shivering when he saw a television report that the driver in the alcohol-induced crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two friends was found guilty of second-degree murder.
"I got the chills � it was the same as when I got the call from Janet [Gigeous, Adenhart's mother] that morning" of the April 9, 2009, accident, said Wilson, an Angels catcher and longtime friend of Adenhart. "I still have them. It's terrible."
The conviction of Andrew Thomas Gallo, a 23-year-old San Gabriel man who faces a potential sentence of 51 years to life in prison, produced a variety of emotions in the Angels' clubhouse before Monday night's 6-5 win over Oakland, including vindication, sadness and relief.
"I have mixed feelings," said infielder Brandon Wood, a close friend of Adenhart, 22, and Henry Pearson, 25, who was also killed in the crash. "It's a way for all of the families and us to get some closure, but it's unfortunate all the way around.
"A kid goes to jail for maybe the rest of his life. If that's not a wake-up call . . . you drink and drive, and now you have 50 years in a cell to think about what your drinking did one night. It's a sad story."
Pitcher Jered Weaver didn't have much sympathy for Gallo, whose blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, in a Fullerton intersection.
"The guy obviously got what was coming to him," Weaver said. "He deserves what he got. Hopefully, this will give everyone a little closure."
The driver of the car in which Adenhart was a passenger, Cal State Fullerton student Courtney Stewart, 20, was also killed. The only survivor was former Titans catcher Jon Wilhite, who suffered extensive injuries but was in the Santa Ana courtroom when Monday's verdict was read.
"Any way you look at it, it's not going to bring Nick back," Wilson said. "It's a loss for everybody. We lost Nick, Courtney and Henry. I know the Gallo family probably feels the same way; they're losing their son. But at least he can't do this again to somebody else's family, to somebody else's friends."
Something good can come out of the accident, Wood said, if it deters others from drinking and driving.
"If I have a buddy who's having more than a beer or two at my place, he's going to get a cab," Wood said. "It's ridiculous. How much does a cab cost? Even if it's $100, would you rather pay that or get a DUI and maybe spend the rest of your life in jail?"
Copyright � 2010, Los Angeles Times