Donte Stallworth has just pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in a Miami Courtroom. He has been sentenced to 30 days in Jail to be followed by two years of house arrest plus eight years of probation including a term that Donte perform 1000 community service hours and a term that he undergo alcohol and drug testing. A lifetime driver’s license suspension was imposed, although that can be shortened upon application by Stallworth after five years to drive for employment purposes.
Stallworth must be elated to say the least. He has a life sentence with the burden of having killed a man, however, he could have faced as many as 15 years in prison. Further, the sentence will allow Donte to resume his NFL career in relatively short order. In addition, the plea agreement was coupled with a financial settlement with the family of the deceased which will avoid a civil lawsuit that would undoubtedly have been filed immediately after the guilty plea.
The NFL will now review the matter to determine if disciplinary action is called for. Donte will get credit in the eyes of the League for the same mitigating factors that influenced the plea agreement with the Miami DA’s office: his guilty plea and remorse; his lack of any prior criminal record; his cooperation with the police from the outset; and that there were extenuating circumstances such as the fact that the tragedy occurred outside of a legal crosswalk. The family of the deceased supported the plea agreement.
Although Donte’s blood alcohol content when he struck and killed Mr. Reyes was 0.046 above the legal limit, he was barely speeding at the time of the incident and did try to warn the victim by flashing his lights.
Make no mistake; Stallworth is lucky to escape with this result. There were false reports at the time that he was charged that there was a mandatory minimum prison sentence in Florida for DUI manslaughter well in excess of 30 days in jail – a lesson that we should be wary of believing some of these crap media reports.
We do think, however, that Stallworth deserves recognition for not stringing this out and making a mockery of the criminal justice system. The likes of Plaxico have been far less honourable.
Donte Stallworth will play for the Browns again. And any disciplinary action from the NFL will be mild.