A taped interview with Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth, plus other evidence, was released on Tuesday by the Miami Beach Police Dept., shining a little light on the events that occurred prior to the auto accident that killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes on March 14. Stallworth, who is serving a 30-day jail sentence (not exactly the “Shawshank Redemption”) after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in the case, said that he drank up to four shots of premium tequila while partying with friends at a Miami Beach club. But he did not feel drunk, he said, in the hours before he struck and killed the pedestrian with his car.
When asked how many shots of tequila he had at the hotel that night (March 14), Stallworth said in an interview recorded by police that he drank some tequila from teammate Braylon Edwards’ table and later bought some shots himself. How many? “Three, four at the most,” Stallworth said. “I wasn’t really counting.”
Stallworth said that he “didn’t feel drunk” in the hours prior to the accident — is there ever a DUI case where the driver says he did? — and when asked by police if he was intoxicated, replied “No, sir.” Modern science disagreed: Lab tests showing that he had a blood-alcohol level of .126 (Florida has an .08 limit).
In addition to the jail sentence, Stallworth also reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Reyes’ family.
The Stallworth interview was released by prosecutors under a public records request by The Associated Press:
Stallworth said he left the club sometime after 4 a.m., went to his Miami condominium for a nap and then decided to go out for breakfast in his 2005 Bentley. That’s when he encountered Reyes, who was leaving his job as a crane operator, crossing a busy road around 7:15 a.m.
“I seen him in the street and I flashed my lights at him to let him at least know I was coming. I tried to swerve over as much as I could,” Stallworth said.
Later, his voice falling almost to a whisper, Stallworth said, “If he would have completely stopped and not kept going … don’t know why he kept going. I don’t know. I should have just stayed home.”
Stallworth’s sentence, which includes two years of house arrest and eight years on probation, will forever be the litmus test for criminal sentencing, of course. (“Two years for stealing cable TV? Donte Stallworth only got 30 days for killing a guy.”) And yes, perhaps it was too lenient. But people also fail to factor in the lack of a prior criminal record, the fact that Stallworth stayed at the scene and immediately called police, and the way that he’s handled himself throughout the trial and sentencing.
Anyway, yeah: He should have just stayed home.