After deliberating for two days, a Broward County jury found the 46 year-old defendant guilty of DUI manslaughter.
The alleged victim was a dancer for the Miami Heat.
The evidence in the trial included video surveillance from the Galleria in Fort Lauderdale that showed the defendant consuming several alcoholic drinks.
The defendant’s blood-alcohol level was nearly 3 times the legal limit in Florida of .08.
The defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years.
In any DUI manslaughter case, the jury must decide firstly, whether the accused was under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point that their normal faculties were impaired, or that they were driving while their blood-alcohol level was at .08 or higher.
After deciding that, the jury must find whether the impairment was the cause of the victim’s death.
It is possible for somebody to be found guilty of misdemeanor DUI (lesser-included offense) and not DUI manslaughter. It is possible that the jury believes that the person is responsible for the crash but they were not impaired. That would be a not guilty verdict.
In this case, the jury was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was impaired by alcohol and that his impairment was the reason for the crash, thus the reason for the victim’s death.
In this case, the defendant exercised a constitutional right by testifying in his own defense. No word as to whether that testimony hurt his chances of being acquitted. Sometimes it is best to exercise your right to remain silent and not become a witness in your own case.
At sentencing, the judge will hear from both the defense, the state, as well as witnesses, including the victim’s friends and family members.
Eric Matheny is a DUI manslaughter lawyer representing clients in Miami-Dade and Broward.