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Driver who killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart found guilty

Sep 27, 2010, 2:28 PM EDT

Gallo, the man behind the wheel of the van that broadsided a car carrying Los Angels Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killing him and two companions, was found guilty today by a jury in Santa Ana, California.

Gallo had been tried on three counts of murder and other offenses, including drunk driving. His blood alcohol content was tested at .19 several hours after the accident. Experts testified at trial that it was likely at .22 at the time of the crash.  Testimony had him on a seven-hour drinking binge prior to the crash and travelling at close to 70 miles per hour when the van he was driving struck the car carrying Adenhart.

Despite this, the verdict was by no means a slam dunk, as prosecutors elected not to submit charges of manslaughter to the jury as an alternative to the murder counts, which frequently occurs in drunk driving fatality cases. That was a risky move, in that the jury could have conceivably found that Gallo was drunk and caused the accident and the deaths but acquitted him anyway if they failed to find the requisite intent for murder. Apparently, however, this was not a problem for the jury. Helpful in this regard, no doubt, was Gallo’s extremely high blood alcohol level and the fact that he had a previous drunk driving conviction.

Adenhart was one of the top prospects in the Angels system. After a cup of coffee in 2008, he put together a fine season in AAA. His 2009 debut came on the night of the crash: April 8, 2009. He earned a no-decision that night, shutting out the A’s on seven hits over six innings.  His future — as well as the futures of Courtney Frances Stewart and Henry Nigel Pearson, Adenhart’s friends who were also killed in the accident — was a bright one.  A fourth victim, Jon Wilhite continues to recover from horrific injuries.

Gallo faces 55 years to life when sentenced. Here’s hoping the judge goes long.

  1. BC - Sep 27, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I can’t remember, but was Adenhart drunk as well? Not that it matters now. Just curious.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 27, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Adenhart was a passenger. Courtney Stewart was driving. I can’t recall, but I want to say that there was some suggestion that she had had a drink or two, but not a significant amount (they were on their way to a bar after the Angels game). It would have been legally irrelevant given that Gallo definitively ran the red light, however.

  3. Loren - Sep 27, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    He wasn’t driving.

  4. RichardInBigD - Sep 27, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    It is a shame that these kins of convictions don’t occur more frequently, especially when the victims are just regular people. Maybe Nick’s contribution in death will exceed what it could have been in life, if this situation serves as an example to people who might not otherwise be responsible about their drinking and driving habits, and as an example to prosecutors, juries and judges as to what needs to be done about those who aren’t.

  5. Jonny5 - Sep 27, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    This guy is sooo screwed. Not nearly as much as his victims were though. It’s really a shame how good people can go soo bad because of alcohol or drugs. I know a girl, a sweet pretty girl. She’s doing 7 years for drunk driving, swerving from the road and hitting someone. They died. I’m not complaining about the sentence. Just saying, the girl really was a great girl, until that night.

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 27, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    I watched “The Deer Hunter” the other night…made in 1978 and won 5 Oscars, including the Oscar for best picture and best director. Could that movie, which pretty much glorified and made a lot of laughs about drinking and driving, even be MADE in today’s climate? Probably not…and it’s a good thing. Good movie, but waaay too much drinking and driving, and it is amazing that just 30 years ago, there really was no such outcry as there is today. If one good thing comes out of this tragedy, it is the awareness that drinking and driving will get you in trouble…unless you are the starting Wide Receiver for the New York Jets. Then you only miss a single quarter. Incredible bad judgment by the Jets.

  7. BC - Sep 27, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Even smart people can do stupid, tragic things.

  8. Jonny5 - Sep 27, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    And that is an understatement.

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