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Mo Walks On DWI Charge

Boston Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn was acquitted Tuesday on a charge of drunken driving.

As Vaughn was walking out of the courtroom, two bailiffs congratulated him, one patting him on the back. Another said: "Congratulations, Mo."

Vaughn showed no emotion while the jury's verdict was read and made no comment to reporters or fans outside the courthouse following the two-day trial.

"He does express great relief," said Kevin Reddington, Vaughn's lawyer. "He appreciated the fair trial he received. The jury has spoken, and that's what the system of justice is all about."

Vaughn, 30, was arrested Jan. 9 on his way home from a Providence, R.I., strip club after hitting a disabled car in the breakdown lane of Interstate 95 in Norwood. Following the collision, Vaughn's sport utility vehicle rolled over but he suffered no injuries.

Vaughn's license has already been suspended for six months for refusing to take a Breathalyzer test. He also was fined $100 for driving outside marked lanes.

If convicted of operating under the influence of alcohol, a first-time offender typically gets his license suspended for 45 to 90 days.

Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said the team was looking forward to having Vaughn join them for spring training in Florida. Shea said Vaughn could be in uniform as early as Thursday for exhibition play against Cleveland.

"We're glad the trial's behind him," Shea said.

Before the jury started deliberating, District Court Judge Gerald Alch instructed them that "a person does not have to be drunk or unconscious to be under the influence."

Prosecutor Elaina Quinn reminded jurors Tuesday that six people testified they smelled alcohol on Vaughn's breath after the accident. Even a defense witness testified that Vaughn had been straddling the solid white line at the edge of the traveling lane when he hit the car, she said.

That, combined with police testimony about failed sobriety tests, left no doubt that Vaughn was drunk, Quinn argued.

"There was no (other) reason for that car to be over that line at 2 o'clock in the morning," she said in her closing argument.

The defense case was bolstered Tuesday by testimony from an accident-reconstruction expert who said the car Vaughn hit was nearer to the exit ramp and closer to the traveling lane than police had said.

Wilson Dobson said Vaughn would have had less than 2.2 seconds to react to the car, considering his speed and the range of his headlights. Even a star baseball player would have trouble avoiding the hazard, Dobson testified.

"You take him out of a ballfield and put him in a car and he's no more trained than the rest of us," he said.

But Quinn got Dobson to admit the disabled car was completely in the breakdown lane.

Vaughn's lawyers had argued that the first baseman's injured leg might have contributed to his failure of eigh sobriety tests. But prosecutors presented video highlights of Vaughn playing for the Red Sox to show there was nothing wrong with his knee.

In other testimony Tuesday, Reddington called a college student who was one of the first on the scene of the accident.

Jared Berhoe testified he helped Vaughn out of his overturned pickup truck after the crash and asked him if he was hurt.

"I would not say that he was intoxicated by looking and talking to him," Berhoe said.

But Berhoe gave potentially damaging testimony for the defense when he described, under cross-examination, how the occupants of his car watched Vaughn take the sobriety tests.

"He wasn't doing too well, and he failed them," Berhoe said.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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