Tuesday, April 14, 2009

California Drunk Driving judge increases bail to $2 million for the 22-year-old man charged with three counts of murder, felony DUI

A California DUI / Drunk Driving judge has increased bail to $2 million for the 22-year-old man charged with three counts of murder, felony drunken driving and other counts in the traffic collision death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two other people.

Prosecutors have charged Andrew Thomas Gallo, of San Gabriel, with three counts of second-degree murder and DUI in the crash.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Roger B. Robbins continued Andrew Gallo's arraignment until June 8 at Monday's hearing. He did not enter a plea.

Meantime, Jon Wilhite, the lone survivor of the crash, was upgraded from critical to serious condition by UC Irvine Medcial Center doctors Satruday.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the second-degree murder charge is based on implied malice -- doing an intentional and inherently dangerous act with a conscious disregard for the life of others.

The Orange County district attorney's office Friday also charged Gallo with inflicting great bodily injury and fleeing the scene.

"At the time of the crash, Mr. Gallo's blood-alcohol content is estimated to be almost three times the legal limit,"Rackauckas said.

If convicted on all counts, Gallo could receive 55 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Fullerton.

Police say Gallo was driving a minivan on East Orangethorpe Ave. just after midnight Thursday. He blew through a red light and broadsided a silver Mitsubishi carrying Adenhart and three friends, according to authorities.

Gallo was apparently going about 65 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The impact of the collision sent the Mitsubishi head-on into a Honda that was facing northbound on Lemon, waiting to make a left turn.

The Mitsubishi then slammed into a light pole.

The 20-year-old driver of the Mitsubishi has been identified as Adenhart's girlfriend Courtney Frances Stewart of Diamond Bar.

She and passenger Henry Nigel Pearson, 25, of Manhattan Beach died at the scene.

Members of the Daily Titan newspaper at Cal State University Fullerton said Stewart was a cheerleader at the school.

She was also a member of the university's chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.

Pearson was a law student who wanted to be an agent for professional athletes.

Adenhart and another passenger, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, were taken to UCI Medical Center.

Adenhart died at the hospital after undergoing surgery.

Wilhite was upgraded Saturday morning to serious condition. He remains in intensive care.
Wilhite played baseball from 2004-08 at Cal State Fullerton.

Stewart's sorority sisters were among a group of people who gathered at the crash site Thursday night to hold vigil for the victims.

The driver of the minivan, 22-year-old Andrew Gallo, who is suspected of driving under the influence, fled the scene and was arrested about a mile away, officials said.

Gallo was driving on a suspended license after a previous drunken-driving conviction, Fullerton Police Lt. Kevin Hamilton said.

According to court records, Gallo pleaded guilty to drunken driving in 2006 in San Bernardino and was sentenced to two days in jail, three years of probation, a $1,374 fine and a four-month alcohol treatment program.

A judge also restricted his driving privileges for three months, allowing him to commute only to and from work and his treatment program.

Gallo never got his license back because he did not comply with the terms of his sentence, according to a spokesperson for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

While his license was suspended, he was cited once for driving without a seat belt and once for misdemeanor possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to the marijuana charge and was ordered to complete the alcohol recovery program that was part of his previous drunk driving sentence.

Gallo's probation was also extended by a year in the drunken driving case because he violated some of its terms.

Gallo was also arrested for public intoxication in March 2007, and was convicted of disturbing the peace in West Covina in January.

Angels General Manager Tony Reagins issued the following statement on behalf of the club Thursday:

"The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today. We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick's family, friends' loved ones and fans."

Adenhart was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and was the Angels' No. 3 starter.

He is survived by his father Jim and mother Janet. His family has released the following statement:

"Nick's family expresses sincere gratitude for all the help the Angels have provided.

He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people.

The Angels were his extended family. Thanks to all of Nick's loyal supporters and fans throughout his career. He will always be in everyone's hearts forever."

Gallo was treated at UCI Medical Center for injuries sustained in the crash.

He was then booked at Fullerton Police Department's jail. Gallo is now being held there on $1 million bail.

A passenger in his van, Raymond Alexander Rivera, 21, of Corona, was also hospitalized with minor injuries. He remained at the scene after the collision, authorities said.

The 33-year-old driver of the Honda was not seriously injured.

No other members of the Angels organization were involved in the crash, according to team spokesman Tim Mead.

He said one of the victims had the same last name as a pitcher in their minor league system, which created confusion early on that another Angels member may have been involved.

Wednesday night marked Adenhart's fourth major league start. The Angels lost the game 6-4 despite his stellar performance.

Adenhart made his major league debut last May 1 against Oakland. At the time, he was the youngest active-roster pitcher in the majors.

The right-hander earned a spot in the starting rotation on an injury-plagued Angels staff by impressing manager Mike Scioscia late in spring training.

The Angels were scheduled to play the Oakland A's at 7:25 p.m. Thursday night, but the game was postponed.

Team members were instead told to spend time at home with their loved ones.

The Angels will begin a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox Friday night.

For the rest of the season, teammates will wear black patches on their uniforms with Adenhart's number 34 on them.

DUI & DMV DEFENSE "EVALUATION FORM"