DUI manslaughter trial of former affiliate of the San Diego Padres & New York Yankees player Jim Leyritz is temporarily postponed as drunk driving criminal defense lawyers argue what extent the defense’s case was harmed by the withholding of potentially exculpatory evidence until the eve of the trial.
Leyritz was arrested in late 2007 after police said he ran a red light while driving under the influence, struck another car and killed Fredia Ann Veitch, the woman driving it. He is charged on three counts, including DUI manslaughter.
His attorneys would like at least one of those charges dropped as they contend prosecutors did not disclose a key piece of evidence — a video showing the victim’s car near where the crash took place — early enough.
Leyritz’s attorneys argue the video could potentially prove their client is innocent, and that for withholding it, the state should be penalized. They say prosecutors had the video as little as two weeks after the December 2007 accident, but the defense didn’t get a copy of it until at least a year later.
The state argues the video is inaccurate and, besides, doesn’t show the location of the crash.
The judge could decide to impose sanctions on the state, which could include dropping one or more of the charges against Leyritz.
Meanwhile, the trial is temporarily on hold as the defense team of the one-time World Series hero is seeking an appeal of the judge’s decision to exclude certain evidence.
Leyritz’s defense team wants to submit evidence in the trial that Veitch was receiving phone calls and text messages, did not have a seat belt on and also had a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit at the time of the crash.
The judge in the case has ruled such information inadmissible — a decision Leyritz’s lawyers have appealed.
Preliminary information and witness reports suggested Leyritz’s 2006 Ford Expedition ran a red light and struck a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero driven by Veitch, 30, at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida intersection. Veitch was ejected, police said, and taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Arrest reports released by police indicate Leyritz failed field sobriety tests administered at the scene. He refused a breath or blood test or a blood draw, but blood was drawn despite his refusal and transferred to the Broward County medical examiner’s office for analysis. Leyritz was treated for a neck sprain at a hospital before being booked into jail, according to the reports.
The accident occurred the morning after Leyritz’s 44th birthday.
An Ohio native, Leyritz played for the Yankees from roughly 1990-97, then for several other teams, including the Yankees, until 2000. He finished his career with the AAA Portland Beavers, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, in 2001.