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Leyritz Defense Up To Bat In DUI Manslaughter Case

MIAMI (CBS4/AP) - The defense team of former major league baseball player Jim Leyritz goes up to bat Monday at his DUI manslaughter trial in Fort Lauderdale.

The defense case will begin with an opening statement from Leyritz lawyer David Bogenschutz. The defense is also expected to put on expert witnesses in such areas as toxicology and crash reconstruction.

The prosecution rested last week after a crash reconstruction expert said Leyritz wasn't speeding before the crash that killed 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch. Testifying for the prosecution, crash expert Donald Felicella said based on the damage to Leyritz's red Ford Expedition and other factors, his vehicle was going about 35 mph -- the posted speed limit -- when it approached the intersection shortly after 3 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2007.

"There was not anything to indicate that speed was a factor," Felicella told jurors, adding later that airbags did not deploy in either vehicle and there was no indication that either driver hit the brakes.

Leyritz, remembered for his dramatic 1996 World Series home run for the New York Yankees, is accused of driving drunk, running a red light and slamming into a Mitsubishi Montero driven by Veitch. Leyritz's blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent about three hours after the crash, well above Florida's 0.08 percent limit, and may have been as high as 0.19 percent when the crash happened, according to trial testimony.

Veitch, a mother of two, was thrown from her vehicle by the impact of the crash. Evidence shows that she was also drunk, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 when the collision occurred, and was not wearing a seat belt.

Last May, Leyritz settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Veitch's family for $250,000 in insurance and $1,000 in monthly payments out of his own pocket for 100 months.

Leyritz, 46, faces between four and 15 years behind bars if convicted.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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