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Jim Leyritz DUI Trial Update: Crash Victim Had Green Light, Says Witness

Jim Leyritz DUI Trial Update: Crash Victim Had Green Light, Says Witness
Jim Leyritz July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Sun Sentinel, Sarah Dussault) AP Photo/Sun Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBS/AP) A prosecution witness in the DUI manslaughter trial of former Yankee Jim Leyritz testified Monday that the victim of the deadly crash had the green light just before the major leaguer barreled through the intersection and into the driver's side of her car.

Garth Henry, at the time a bouncer at a local bar, said he was walking toward the intersection just before the crash at 3:19 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2007. The victim, 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch, was in a dark green Mitsubishi Montero, while Leyritz was in a red Ford Expedition.

"He was trying to catch a yellow light he wasn't going to make. She didn't have to stop because it was green," Henry said on the opening day of testimony in Leyritz's trial.

During the first day of trial the prosecution told the jury that a toxicology expert estimated Leyritz's blood-alcohol level at the time of the December 2007 crash was 0.18, based on a blood test taken about three hours later that found a 0.14 level. Florida's legal limit is 0.08.

Stefanie Newman, an assistant state attorney, also told the jury that a vitamin water bottle found in Leyritz's sports-utility vehicle tested positive for alcohol and it also contained Leyritz's DNA.

Under cross examination by defense attorney David Bogenschutz, Henry said that it was the sound of screeching tires that drew his attention to the intersection that night, suggesting that he may not have seen the light change.

The state's first witness was Fort Lauderdale police Detective Orlando Almanzar, who was an officer on road patrol the night of the crash. Almanzar said he noticed a "slight" odor of alcohol on Leyritz's breath as well as bloodshot eyes, but under cross examination said Leyritz didn't seem unduly impaired.

The judge has barred Leyritz from introducing evidence that Veitch, who had worked as a bartender, was also drunk at the time of the crash and was not wearing a seat belt. Prosecutors say that evidence had no bearing on whether Leyritz ran the red light.

In 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.

The trial is expected to last about four weeks and as many as 44 witnesses could testify. Leyritz faces between four and 15 years in prison if convicted in the death of Veitch, a mother of two who was thrown from her vehicle by the force of the crash.

October 26, 2010 - Jim Leyritz Trial: DUI Manslaughter Case of Former Yankee Begins with Jury Selection