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Stallworth Could Still Avoid DUI Manslaughter Charges

Several weeks ago, we pointed out that the lawyers representing Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth believed he might not ultimately be prosecuted on DUI manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Mario Reyes.
Many of you thought we were crazy.
Well, we might be crazy.  But we weren’t wrong.
Jason Cole, of the web site named for an utterance a crazy person might make, reports that Stallworth still might duck the manslaughter charge.
The issue is causation.  As we’ve previously explained, the key here is the precise language of Section 316.193(3)(c)(3)(b) of the Florida Statutes. 
A person who is driving while drunk doesn’t commit DUI manslaughter simply by driving drunk and being involved in an accident resulting in another person’s death.  To be liable for DUI manslaughter, the drunk driver also must have caused or contributed to the causation of the incident.
Here, there is evidence that Mr. Reyes was jaywalking; the police report shows that he was crossing the street well beyond the boundaries of the closest crosswalk.
Still, the law doesn’t merely use the term “cause.”  The standard is “causes or contributes to causing” the death.  So even if Reyes was out of the crosswalk, Stallworth’s alleged intoxication could have “contributed to” the outcome.
The problem for the prosecution is the very high standard of proof that applies in criminal cases.  To get a conviction for DUI manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that Stallworth contributed to causing the death beyond a reasonable doubt.
As Cole explains, the decision not to pursue DUI manslaughter would be coupled with a guilty plea to DUI charges, a prison term, and a civil settlement with the victim’s family.  (Our guess is that Stallworth’s insurance carrier already has made a significant payment to the estate of Mr. Reyes.)
Also working in Stallworth’s favor, in our view, is the fact that he has displayed true remorse for the incident, and that he has not tried to blame Mr. Reyes or otherwise talk his way out of the situation.  
Put simply, Stallworth has handled himself honorably in the wake of dishonorable conduct, and if a certain other criminal defendant had done the same thing a couple of years ago, he might have ended up not doing 19 months in a federal pen.

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30 Responses to “Stallworth Could Still Avoid DUI Manslaughter Charges”
  1. EaglesRule says: May 21, 2009 9:41 AM

    I still say if he had time to flash his lights on the man he had time to stop. It doesnt matter if the man was jaywalking or not. I think that will be a major sticking point in the case of the prosecution.

  2. realityonetwo says: May 21, 2009 9:42 AM

    Who cares. He’s fantasy irrelevant anyway…

  3. trimdan says: May 21, 2009 9:59 AM

    Wow, once again, a man dies and because of legal “eese” another athlete will walk. This country is one small step from armageddon! Our legal system is a joke and so are the attorney’s that make up the system. It is all set up for the criminal because that’s who attorney’s defend. Good luck stallworth on the rest of your career as you buy yourself out of this one, I just hope you can look yourself in the mirror and sleep at night!

  4. Wick says: May 21, 2009 10:01 AM

    As to the last paragraph in the PFT article, here’s one voice in complete agreement.
    From the very outset, Stallworth showed genuine sadness, compassion and contrition. As noted, his response was at least honorable – to the extent possible in such circumstances.
    By contrast, Vick repeatedly lied and attempted to duck accountability.
    Many will contend that a human life is worth much more than a dog’s life and draw the comparsion at that level.
    Perhaps another factor to consider is the one death involved in the Stallworth incident was not intentional. However, in Vick’s set of circumstances, there were the deaths of many dozens of fighting dogs – plus untold numbers of pets (dogs, cats, … etc.) were killed after being “pet-napped” for use as bait. Elaborate measures were meant to conceal the whole operation – which would assuredly still be going on had it not come to light.
    Not saying Stallworth should get a free pass. Not by a long shot. Just noting a few distinctions worth considering when comparing the conduct of Stallworth’s accident to the deplorable and protracted actions Vick was behind at every step of the way, including his efforts to cover up the deplorable activity through deceit once busted.
    P.S. Amongst a lot of other heinous behavior, why was Vick behind hooking a dog’s nuts up to a car battery? What the hell is that all about? Sounds more sadistic than anything else. Makes it a little hard to feel too sympathetic for Mike Vick’s self-created problems.

  5. brownbox27 says: May 21, 2009 10:03 AM

    How is it possible that you can drive drunk, kill a HUMAN and avoid prosecution, yet Michael Vick FINANCES dogfighting and he’s thrown in prison for 2 yrs+, and the world hates him?! Really? Is human life really not that important anymore???????

  6. lax11slice says: May 21, 2009 10:08 AM

    GASP!
    You mean, the law actually has rules?
    Poppycock!
    STRING HIM UP!
    How else can we fill our populist rage other than condemning a millionaire for an act against someone who was somewhere he has no business being and we wouldnt give two sh!ts about except that he lets us tear down said millionaire

  7. Alabama leprechaun says: May 21, 2009 10:16 AM

    brownbox27 says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 10:03 am
    How is it possible that you can drive drunk, kill a HUMAN and avoid prosecution, yet Michael Vick FINANCES dogfighting and he’s thrown in prison for 2 yrs+, and the world hates him?! Really? Is human life really not that important anymore???????
    ————————————————————————————————————
    Not to PETA, ASPCA, or most Democrats.

  8. kardiac says: May 21, 2009 10:17 AM

    As a Browns fan, I hope Donte is allowed to play… never know when you’ll need a guy to make 18 catches for 159 yards and a TD.

  9. EverybodyGotAIDS says: May 21, 2009 10:17 AM

    brownbox27 says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 10:03 am
    How is it possible that you can drive drunk, kill a HUMAN and avoid prosecution, yet Michael Vick FINANCES dogfighting and he’s thrown in prison for 2 yrs+, and the world hates him?! Really? Is human life really not that important anymore???????
    ____________
    That’s the most irrelevent and simplistic comparison there is. What if someone accidentally slipped on some water at a train station and knocked someone else onto the tracks, killing them? Is that worse than Michael Vick? I mean, a human life was lost, right?
    Also, to say that he merely financed the dogfighting is to be ignorant of the facts. He was the head of the organization, by all accounts. He wasn’t writing a check once a month made out to “Dogfighting” and letting that be it. They were doing it at his damn house! He was THERE! He killed dogs in a variety of BRUTAL WAYS.
    Don’t get me wrong, what Donte Stallworth did was wrong. He shouldn’t have been driving drunk and his actions resulted in the death of a person. A dead person is worse than a dead dog…but there was no intent to kill. There was no malice. Michael Vick had nothing BUT malice. To compare the two and say that what Stallworth did was worse is ridiculous. The end result may have been worse (dead person versus dead dogs), but the ACTIONS of Michael Vick were far more heinous and evil than the ACTIONS of Donte Stallworth.

  10. kardiac says: May 21, 2009 10:17 AM

    ….. in a season!!

  11. duffsbeer says: May 21, 2009 10:20 AM

    Florio,
    You might want to check to see if in Florida insurance companies cover the insuree if he is convicted of DUI. I know in certain locations your insurance is automatically invalid if you are convicted of DUI and you are personally on the hook for any and all costs associated to your actions while driving impaired.

  12. KSFALC1 says: May 21, 2009 10:22 AM

    “Put simply, Stallworth has handled himself honorably in the wake of dishonorable conduct, and if a certain other criminal defendant had done the same thing a couple of years ago, he might have ended up not doing 19 months in a federal pen.”
    Wow, I hope that all of you readers see the hypocrisy of Florio. He has become the judge, jury, and executioner of each NFL star who has run ins with the law.
    Do we really need Florio to do all our thinking for us?

  13. novanative says: May 21, 2009 10:27 AM

    makes sense. if the deceased was breaking a law at the same time Stallworth was, double negatives, they cancel each other out. I miss good ole days in Florida where you could only be found guilty of DUI if you actually caused an accident

  14. VikesStillSuck says: May 21, 2009 10:42 AM

    Givin the legal system we are provided, I think Stallworth Walks on this charge. He will settle a civil uit out of the court and it will case him 10 million above his insurance I am sure. I see maybe 90 days for the DUI givin what took place.
    It is unfortunate that Mr. Reyes lost his life no doubt, however I don’t foresee any capable way that they can find Stallworth 100% liable for his death givin that he was crossing in an indesignated area. it takes a Split second to flash your lights, and you can’t stop a moving vehicle in that time. Not to give an excuse but Stallworth had no reason to expect that someone would be crossing there, giving him reasonable doubt for the case.
    Lastly on comparing this to Vick, Really!? Vick’s actions were entirely by choice, the fact that he shows no remorse just adds to the situation. People die on accident every single day, and it is because of the national media attention that we think athletes walk because of their social status, yet Vick was in total controll of his actions and the situation. His crime was worse than Stallworths.

  15. bwnyc says: May 21, 2009 10:45 AM

    Count me as one that hopes Stallworth doesn’t have to do a lot of time. He’ll already be haunted by killing a guy for the rest of his life. I doubt time-served would do much to change that.
    Let’s also not forget that he was driving eastward into morning sun glare.

  16. darlak says: May 21, 2009 11:06 AM

    “Who cares. He’s fantasy irrelevant anyway… ”
    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  17. FlorioBorio says: May 21, 2009 11:11 AM

    “Put simply, Stallworth has handled himself honorably in the wake of dishonorable conduct”
    Of course, if he had still been a Patriot, he would have just used the “everyone was doing it” excuse popularized by the Spygate apologist excuse makers.

  18. thevlture says: May 21, 2009 11:29 AM

    Honorable? All the thugs talk about is respect and how they’re men. Well act like it and take some responsibility for your actions.

  19. realityonetwo says: May 21, 2009 11:32 AM

    brownbox,
    Your response is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever been injured by a drunk driver.

  20. Pell says: May 21, 2009 11:34 AM

    What an f’n joke…

  21. promichael says: May 21, 2009 11:38 AM

    The law is clear in Florida statutes as sited by Florio. I spoke to a
    former head prosecutor in Florida who is now involved with DUI and
    the defense of such charges. Stallworth could avoid DUI Manslaughter
    due to the statute and section mentioned. This is not a case of Florio
    or anyone else being judge and jury. However if someone jay walks or
    is not crossing the street legally. Then gets killed as a result, the statute
    may apply.

  22. YP2K says: May 21, 2009 11:39 AM

    Does it make Stallworth’s homicide by drunk driving less atrocious because the guy wasn’t in the crosswalk when he got ran over by the drunk driver?
    What if it had been your father or brother? Would you still feel that Stallworth should walk? I don’t think it would matter to me how “nice” he was about it . . .
    And speaking of how “nice” Stallworth has been about it; what has he actually said to make you believe he’s being so great about it (not that he should say anything)?
    You can’t really compare the two situations; Stallworth was immediately questioned and put through a test for alcohol, so the case was simple and clear cut; whereas the Vick situation and investigation went on for months before any charges were brought up, after first looking like there might not be any charges. Who knows what Stallworth’s legal team would have done if it had been drug out for months . . .

  23. _BpG_ says: May 21, 2009 11:52 AM

    Love the Browns.
    Hate drunken retards mowing down innocent people.
    Off to jail!

  24. Philtration says: May 21, 2009 12:18 PM

    “Count me as one that hopes Stallworth doesn’t have to do a lot of time. He’ll already be haunted by killing a guy for the rest of his life. I doubt time-served would do much to change that.
    Let’s also not forget that he was driving eastward into morning sun glare. ”
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Yeah… and Ray Lewis really seems all broken up about his little “accident”.
    I bet it haunts him every day that he wakes up in a 10 million dollar home.
    Let’s not forget that he was also intoxicated and had enough time to flash his lights at the guy instead of hitting his break before killing him.

  25. brownbox27 says: May 21, 2009 1:17 PM

    brownbox,
    Your response is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever been injured by a drunk driver.
    _____________________
    realityonetwo, go read what I said again and you will see that I can’t believe Stallworth is gonna get off so easily…it doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or not, he was driving drunk (breaking the law #1), and then killed someone because of it (breaking the law #2).

  26. jwill007 says: May 21, 2009 1:40 PM

    So its ok for him to walk for killing a MAN but Vick does 20 months for dog fighting…What Im saying when I make this statement is if Vick serves time then DONTE DEFINITELY SHOULD!
    Humans will always take priority over animals I guess the justice system hasnt determined that yet…………interesting….
    And let me say I love dogs I own a beautiful german shepherd and love him to death so save the weak post……

  27. Treez says: May 21, 2009 2:02 PM

    I don’t think I’d walk. How much do you need to pay a lawyer to mention that statute in your defense?

  28. SpartaChris says: May 21, 2009 7:47 PM

    brownbox27 says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 10:03 am
    How is it possible that you can drive drunk, kill a HUMAN and avoid prosecution, yet Michael FINANCES dogfighting and he’s thrown in prison for 2 yrs+, and the world hates him?! Really? Is human life really not that important anymore???????

    Well, Vick did a LOT more than just finance dig fighting. To think otherwise is just ignorant.
    More to your question… I dunno if you actually read the article, but it’s the law in Florida that’s the problem. No one is saying Stallworth shouldn’t do time and be adequately punished, but Florida’s law has that “causation” clause which makes it harder to convict.
    Truth be told, it’s really time for the league to put a stop to DUI’s. These guys make enough money to pay for a safe ride home, and most teams have a number that can be called to go pick a guy up. With a little pre-planning, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why another NFL player needs to get a DUI. Merely getting pulled over one time should result in a 4 game suspension. A second time should be 8 games, minimum. Causing injury or death should be a permanent ban out of the league. Might be harsh, but there’s just no reason for it to happen, ever. Especially with guys who have the financial means to ensure it doesn’t.

  29. realityonetwo says: May 21, 2009 9:10 PM

    Sorry, brownbox… It was the “everybodygotaids” comment that trivialized drunk drivers’ culpability. I grabbed your name from one of his posts by mistake…

  30. browns4xnflchamp says: May 27, 2009 12:22 AM

    thevlture says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 11:29 am
    Honorable? All the thugs talk about is respect and how they’re men. Well act like it and take some responsibility for your actions.
    ———————————————————————————-
    He has, but he still deserves time behind bars and should have to fork over his entire 6 mil bonus.

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