On December 28, 2007, former Yankees World Series hero Jim Leyritz was involved in an accident that took the life of a woman named Fredia Ann Veitch. He was drunk. So was she. There's a dispute, however, as to who had the red light and who was acting more recklessly at the time, and despite the fact that Leyrtiz walked away from the crash and Veitch didn't, whether he is guilty of vehicular manslaughter is an open question to be decided in a September trial.
Given the facts, any defense for Jim Leyritz was going to be tough to pull off, but now Leyrtiz has gone and made it tougher by sitting down for an interview with Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald. Tougher due to comments like this:
There was no possibility of me avoiding that crash with all of my senses. A mother was taken away from her kids. I can't change that. But I didn't do it. The accident did. And that accident wasn't my fault . . . As the survivor, when are you permitted to move on -- emotionally or in life?' Ever?
Regarding his lost business opportunities following the crash he says "I was going to be the Eric Estrada of Costa Rica. All that's gone now."
In my legal practice, I've been the part of teams defending criminal defendants in high profile cases that garnered some media attention. In each case, my client wanted to get their story out to the media. In each case, my colleagues and I made every effort to prevent it. Not because they didn't have a good story to tell with points in their favor, but because we knew that when the trial came around, those words would be thrown back at them without any of the context in which they were originally uttered. The prosecutor would read them to the jury in a callous and mocking tone, doing everything he could to cast my client as a monster. It was highly effective, and in at least one case I think those words had an impact on the ultimate outcome and certainly led to a rougher sentence than my client probably deserved.
If you read the entire Le Batard piece, you'll be unable to come away without some amount of sympathy for Leyritz, if not for his legal plight, than at least for the emotional and financial place in which he and his family current find themselves. None of that will matter to a jury, however. All they'll hear is Jim Leyrtiz seemingly distancing himself from any responsibility and asking when he gets to move on. I can almost hear the prosecutor now: "Jim Leyrtiz wants to know when he can move on. Jim Leyrtiz is sad because he can't be Eric Estrada. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Fredia Ann Veitch doesn't get to move on. She's dead in the cold, cold ground, and Mr. Leyritz is responsible." And he'll say that whether or not the evidence at trial truly points to Leyritz's responsibility.
Jim: you had the right to remain silent. You should have taken it.