Gallo, the man behind the wheel of the van that broadsided a car carrying Los Angels Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killing him and two companions, was found guilty today by a jury in Santa Ana, California.
Gallo had been tried on three counts of murder and other offenses, including drunk driving. His blood alcohol content was tested at .19 several hours after the accident. Experts testified at trial that it was likely at .22 at the time of the crash. Testimony had him on a seven-hour drinking binge prior to the crash and travelling at close to 70 miles per hour when the van he was driving struck the car carrying Adenhart.
Despite this, the verdict was by no means a slam dunk, as prosecutors elected not to submit charges of manslaughter to the jury as an alternative to the murder counts, which frequently occurs in drunk driving fatality cases. That was a risky move, in that the jury could have conceivably found that Gallo was drunk and caused the accident and the deaths but acquitted him anyway if they failed to find the requisite intent for murder. Apparently, however, this was not a problem for the jury. Helpful in this regard, no doubt, was Gallo’s extremely high blood alcohol level and the fact that he had a previous drunk driving conviction.
Adenhart was one of the top prospects in the Angels system. After a cup of coffee in 2008, he put together a fine season in AAA. His 2009 debut came on the night of the crash: April 8, 2009. He earned a no-decision that night, shutting out the A’s on seven hits over six innings. His future — as well as the futures of Courtney Frances Stewart and Henry Nigel Pearson, Adenhart’s friends who were also killed in the accident — was a bright one. A fourth victim, Jon Wilhite continues to recover from horrific injuries.
Gallo faces 55 years to life when sentenced. Here’s hoping the judge goes long.