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Driver who killed Nick Adenhart sentenced to 51 years-to-life in prison

Dec 22, 2010, 2:14 PM EDT

Nick Adenhart large

Andrew Gallo, the driver who killed Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart has been sentenced to 51 years-to-life in prison.

In addition to Adenhart, Gallo killed Adenhart’s friends Courtney Frances Stewart and Henry Pearson and critically injured a fourth victim, Jon Wilhite.

I’m not sure how sentencing goes in California, but in jurisdictions I’m familiar with, when you get an “X-years-to-life” sentence, you have to serve at least the X-years part. It’s when you’re merely given a term of years (e.g. “51 years”) that earlier parole is available.  I’ll update how it will work in Gallo’s case when I can track it down.

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.

  1. Rob A from BBD - Dec 22, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    This guy Gallo should have hit a home run in the ’96 World Series. Then he would have just gotten probation.

  2. Jonny 5 - Dec 22, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    So if Jim Leyritz wasn’t a famous Yankee, he would have been found guilty of manslaughter too?? Andrew Gallow did basically the same as Jim L. he just killed less people. Oh wait she didn’t count as a person because she was drinking too. Oh wait so was Adenhart and crew. I’m confused.

    • iranuke - Dec 22, 2010 at 2:52 PM

      Your confusion can be cured by lookin at a map—Left Coast, Right Coast.

    • jhorton83 - Dec 22, 2010 at 8:49 PM

      Gallow was clearly responsible for this accident. He blew through a red light. It could not be proven that Leyritz was responsible for the accident that killed another intoxicated driver. That’s the difference.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:53 AM

        Oh, that’s funny, because i was thinking it was because people are hypocrites and that we have a very flawed justice system where the law is applied unevenly when comparing lower to middle class citizens to higher class and/or famous citizens…

    • mab211 - Dec 23, 2010 at 2:00 PM

      No because Leyritz didn’t cause the accident that he was involved in. All of the facts of the case can be referenced via public court records. He may have been over the legal limit, but the person who actually caused the accident, and who was at fault, was the other driver, who was unfortunately killed. There was a big outcry to get Leyritz (a so-called privileged athlete) so the state charged him with manslaughter. It came out at trial that he had the light, wasn’t speeding and did not contribute to the accident in any way. The jury found that it was the other driver who ran the red light, was driving without lights, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and had a BAC of .18 . Leyritz was convicted of DWI and got the standard first offender sentence, probation and license suspension

    • ddtjman - Dec 23, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      Wow, you really are an idiot.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 22, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    According to an internet search of California sentencing guidelines there has never been a case in California where anyone sentenced to at least 25 years to life has ever been granted parole before they served the XX years to life. In this case that would appear to mean Gallo will have to serve at least 51 years before he is even considered for parole.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM

      I think in principle you are right, but California’s prisons are extremely overcrowded right now and a lot of people are getting out early to make room for more violent offenders. Drunk driving is the most easily avoided crime in the world and I really think those who are guilty of it should face severe punishment (looking at you Dante Stalworth, Leonard Little, Jim Leyritz, Tony LaRussa, Koren Robinson, and on and on and on), especially in a case like this one, but I have no idea where Gallo would fall on the violent offender spectrum or when/if he might be released early. One of the arguments in favor of prop 19 (legalizing marijuana) was to ease the burden on the state’s penal system by getting low level drug offenders out of prison.

      Just wanted to throw in that the court’s decision and previous precedent in the state of California might not necessarily apply.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:31 PM

        Gallo was convicted of 3 counts of 2nd degree murder as well as other other counts. I think that qualifies him as a violent offender. I don’t think the California prison system will let him out for many, many years and they shouldn’t let him out. As other posters have stated he got what he deserved.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:35 PM

        I just pulled this from a CNN story that was posted Dec 8:

        The rest of the prison’s 4,500 inmates share cells at a facility designed to hold 2,300. Corrections officer Lt. Michael Stratman says the prison is just under 200% capacity, which increases the potential for violence.

        But that’s not the basis of a U.S. Supreme Court case that may result in the high court forcing California to release 40,000 inmates to reduce crowding. The case is about health conditions.

      • Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:43 PM

        Interesting stuff (The CNN post).

      • seeingwhatsticks - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:50 PM

        Yeah, I heard a story about it on NPR recently. Been a mess for years but we’re fast approaching the breaking point. I don’t think anyone is for letting inmates out but as you can see from what I posted the decisions might be taken out of the state’s hands in the near future. I believe the story I heard referenced a large number of inmates who die annually because they don’t have access to basic medical care as a result of so many prisons converting their medical facilities into inmate housing. If you were to google “California overcrowded prisons” you’d probably find a lot more useful information about the situation, but in the meantime here’s the rest of that real brief blog entry I posted earlier:

        Attorney Don Specter argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that with so many prisoners, there isn’t adequate physical and mental health care and the inmates are living in less than humane conditions.

        The high court is set to decide whether to uphold a lower court’s decision forcing the reduction.

        State Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said efforts have been made to reduce the prison population since its peak in 2007, mostly through parole. Thornton said the state doesn’t need the high court’s help reducing the number of prisoners.

      • apbaguy - Dec 22, 2010 at 6:57 PM

        Maybe they’ll let go a few of the several hundred thousand serving time for simple possession of marijuana to make room for this guy.

  4. florida727 - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I only feel sorry for this guy Gallo to the extent that it’s a shame someone has to get drunk to “have a good time”. Ultimately, he’s getting exactly what he deserves, although I doubt Adenhart’s family is in any way consoled by the news. Don’t get me wrong… I’ve consumed my share of alcohol too. But I eventually came to the realization that alcohol serves absolutely no useful purpose. Now this guy’s life is completely ruined. You think others would learn from something like this…

  5. oswegosteve - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Keep in mind that Gallo was also a repeat offender…..this wasn’t the first time he’d been involved with drinking and driving. The guy got what he deserved….just a shame it couldn’t have been more painful for him.

  6. King Trash Newsdesk - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    craig can you explain how this might differ from the leyritz case? or donte stallworth for that matter. bit of a broad question but just a shot in the dark. thanks

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:44 PM

      In the Leyritz case the prosecutors could not prove that Leyritz being drunk is what caused the accident. Conflicting evidence on whether he ran the red light or the woman who died did (and the woman who died was also drunk which, while technically excluded from evidence, the prosecutors let the jury know anyway).

      Here it was indisputable. Gallo ran a red light at a high rate of speed and slammed into the car.

  7. Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Ted Kennedy did this and got elected to a long senate term.

    • jkcalhoun - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:50 PM

      Ted Kennedy posted to Hardball Talk? I definitely missed that one.

    • ddtjman - Dec 23, 2010 at 7:01 PM

      Ted Kennedy had connections. Maybe you heard of this dude named John F. Kennedy, before? If not, Google that name.

      Ted Kennedy also only killed one person.

  8. clydeserra - Dec 22, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    In California if you are sentenced to an indeterminent sentence (the to life thing) you must serve the years before being eligible for parole. Gallo will serve 51 year minus any good time credit that he can earn at 85%. So, if he gets a job in prison and doesn’t get disiplined he may be eligible for parole after a little over 43 years (some time in 2052 I think).

    Once up for parole he can ask for a hearing to be released. He will not be. No one ever is.

    Overcrowding will not effect people that have been convicted of violent crimes.

    There is no comparison between Leyritz and this case. Here, the driver had priors and under CA law he had “notice” that drinking and driving is dangerous. Also, reports were that he ran a stop light and hit a vehicle that was lawfully in the intersection. Leyritz, as I recall, did was not the driver in the wrong (as far as the accident goes), and he did not have a prior so he doesn’t have the same culpability.

  9. yankees1996 - Dec 22, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    This entire situation is a terrible tragedy, three young people are dead and one other will have to live with the after effects of his injuries and memories for the rest of his life. The man who took their lives is getting off easy if you ask me but he is not the only one to blame in this case. The state of California had already had a run in with this guy when it came to D.U.I. and they effectually did nothing to him which allowed this event to unfold. The 51 years he was given is nothing and you know why?, because there are three people who will never make it to 51 years of age. The penalties that are given to drunk drivers in this country are in most cases light and laughable and those penalties encourage the behaviour to be repeated as in this case.
    The fact that Gallos’ attorney asked for lienency during sentencing is even further aggravating to everyone involved and is hurtful to the families of those who were killed. Mr.Gallo made bad decisions before in his life and made bad decisions again that night and it cost three young people their lives, his circumstances and his enviroment have nothing to do with it, those things are excuses for his behaviour. Mr. Gallo should have sought out the proper help after his first arrest, believe me the help is there for the taking, for some reason he chose not to pursue that avenue and again this is where his bad decision making has left him. There is no reason for him to be granted any mercy in this case he disregarded everyones safety by doing what he did (and that includes his own) he must now pay the penalty for his actiions and only he alone can do it. The courts need take this type of stance with criminals, when the penalty becomes too high people will begin to consider their actions and make better decisions.

  10. smokehouse56 - Dec 22, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    Could it be that California, a wasted liberal state, has wasted billions of dollars of confiscated tax money on “feel good” projects like global warming and illegals and so have no money for the proper amount of prisons. Just ask’n.

    • jkcalhoun - Dec 22, 2010 at 6:31 PM

      It’s a fine question: why are people who are opposed to tax revenues for progressive measures generally in favor of tax revenues for punitive measures? But I’m sure this forum is inappropriate for that discussion. So let’s adjourn.

    • apbaguy - Dec 22, 2010 at 7:24 PM

      California is far from a wasted liberal state. Its population is so much bigger than any other state that a simple characterization of it as one way or another is moronic and ignorant. Don’t forget that Nixon and Reagan were Californians, the John Birch Society is located in SoCal, etc, etc .As an indication of how big CA is the prison population is 167,000 and there are 33 prisons. CA spends 11% of its budget on prisons, roughly $ 8Bn.

      Prison overcrowding here has more to do with the size of the state and the crazy enforcement and incarceration for simple possession of drugs. Something like 56% of prisoners are in for possession. And overcrowding is also localized to SoCal, which has less room for prisons. Up here in NorCal we have lots of room, mainly because first time drug possession convictions usually result in treatment rather than jail. Gallo could easily end up in San Q with that kind of sentence, or Pelican Bay. Lovely places.

  11. aaronmoreno - Dec 22, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Even as a wannabe prosecutor and Angels fan, I can’t believe this sentence will stick on appeal. 51 years? Running the counts of vehicular man consecutively shouldn’t get you that much. I understand the anger, but that intent element isn’t gonna look as pretty in front of judges as it does in front of a jury.

  12. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 22, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    I believe California law presumes premeditation (or at least the requisite intent, however characterized) if the drunk driver has a prior DUI conviction, which Gallo had. That would make it a more severe crime than a typical vehicular man case.

    I may be mistaken about that — I’m no expert on CA law — but I’ve read it elsewhere.

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 22, 2010 at 11:15 PM

      I’m no expert either, but I got Lexis. Looks like a Watson Murder case, using implied malice “when the conduct in question can be characterized as a wanton disregard for life, and the facts demonstrate a subjective awareness of the risk created…” which you would get with multiple DUIs.

  13. ddtjman - Dec 23, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Andrew Boy…the pipes, the pipes are cal-ling.

    Dying in prison is gonna be a motherducker.

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