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Driver convicted of murder in crash that killed Angels' Nick Adenhart, 2 others

Adenhart Andrew Thomas Gallo, 23, was found guilty of murder Monday in connection with the DUI crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.

The April 9, 2009, death of Adenhart just hours after he made his first start of the season for the Angels, pitching six scoreless innings, shocked baseball fans and non-fans alike.

Courtney Stewart, a student and former cheerleader at Cal State Fullerton, and Henry Pearson, a 25-year-old law school student who was building a sports management business, were also killed in the crash.

Gallo had been convicted of driving under the influence three years before the crash and was still on probation when it happened.

When his blood-alcohol level was tested a couple of hours after the crash, it was 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit for driving, officials said.

Gallo was found guilty of three counts of second-degree murder, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run. He faces a sentence of 55 years to life in prison.

Jon Wilhite, 24, of Manhattan Beach survived the crash but sustained major injuries. Gallo's stepbrother, Raymond Rivera, broke his nose and wrist in the collision.

At the time of the crash, Gallo was 22 and a recovering alcoholic who had tried twice before to overcome his addiction, his attorney, Jacquline Goodman, said during the trial.

He always made sure he had a designated driver, and in the hours before the crash it was Rivera, his designated driver, who pushed him to drink, she said.

When the crash happened, Goodman argued, Gallo and Rivera were so intoxicated that it is possible Rivera was actually the driver. She conceded that it was unlikely and said Gallo didn't want her to argue the point.

But in the end, she said, even if Gallo was driving, he is not what people have in mind when they think of a murderer. He is a young man with bad judgment who is now caught in a tragic situation, she said.

"Use your common sense," she said. "Is it murder?"

For prosecutors, the answer was clear, noting his prior conviction for driving under the influence. He had been warned of the dangers of drinking and driving by a court, by friends and by family, they said.

During the trial, Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Price showed video of Gallo and his stepbrother drinking heavily in a West Covina bikini bar before the crash.

-- Paloma Esquivel in Santa Ana

Photo: Nick Adenhart. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (92)

wow this is the best news

As the article states, he was forewarned. Therefore the verdict seems appropriate.

My heart goes out to all of the families, but I'm so glad the courts are working for victims of drunk drivers. It was a matter of time with this guy and unfortunately four young people paid the price. He's one less drunk driver we have to worry about.

"Use your common sense," she said. "Is it murder?"

Is she serious? Attorneys have no concept of common sense. Do this...go out and give the plain facts to 100 common people, and then ask those people if it's murder. Approach it from the viewpoint of justice when you do this, and not from a typical attorney's viewpoint which is screw justice...it's all about winning. What a joke.

Guy gets busted for DUI. Guy goes on probation. Guy sanely chooses to drink. Guy gets massively intoxicated. Guy gets into vehicle, drives it, and proceeds to crash into another vehicle killing three people.

Yeah, that sounds like murder to me.

Call it murder or involuntary manslaughter, I could care less. Just lock him up and throw away the key -- which is what should have been done after the second or third of his multiple DUIs.

I don't see how the judge can give him anything less than the maximum sentance. This crime is so terrible in it's conseqeunces that Gallo needs to be put away for the full 55 years so he can't get drunk out of his mind and do this to anyone else.

Here we go, again. The trash of Southern California. We have a piece of scrum who is driving without a valid license, drunk and stupid. And his family wants us to feel something for him after he murders 3 people. That could have me or you in that intersection. Well, Bubba have a long time in prison. There is know excuse for driving impaired-none what so ever. Our Sacramento folks should increase the sentences-but they will not since so many of them and their family members drive impaired.
But, let's hope this guy spends a long time in prison-a couple life sentences without parole would be appropriate in this case.

This is good, however, it is sad when 100's die each year by a drunk driver and the driver gets off easy. If you drive drunk you should be arrested for attempted murder. simple as that. there is NO difference between driving drunk and randomly firing a gun in a crowded street.

You had to get a guilty verdict. Could you imagine the ramifications if he was found not guilty???

1.9% alcohol in his blood was probably about 3-4 drinks, or 3-4 beers to be considered drunk driving. In Europe they don't call it drunk driving they call it drink driving which is more appropriate because a person isn't necessarily drunk with that much.
Either way, Do Not Drink & Drive period, not even with after having one beer. It's not worth the possibility of getting in an accident with someone slightly hurt, seriously, or being killed and you're held responsible and can go to prison for a very long time.

This also includes drug driving, whether it's with prescription, or over-the-counter drugs, that people fail to consider, but it's definitely considered when you get into an accident.

Good riddence. This guy did not add to our society, he subtracted from it: the three decent innocent lives he took from us. Lock him up and take away the key.

A giant AMEN to this jury! WELL DONE! I nominate you for JURY OF THE DECADE! Best verdict I have heard since O.J. got found guilty in 2008!

Isn't the "bar" or "bartender" also responsible to some degree? Several bartenders/servers I have spoken to over the years have said that there is some level of liability put on their shoulders. Why wasn't this mentioned or also taken up in court? Maybe the author didn't know either.

Hallelujia! Finally Mr. Gallo gets his. I was very much afraid that Ms. Goodman would get him off. After all, I believe the choice was murder or walk.

If she had gotten him off, she would probably become known as a real-life Perry Mason and would likely have all kinds of lost-cause cases dropped in her lap. That won't happen now and I'm thrilled.

This doesn't bring back Nick, Courtney or Henry, but I'm sure it does provide some kind of closure to their grieving families.

Not to excuse Gallo's behavior but why he is getting a longer sentence then the couple who ran over the USC student and then dumped his body in the street and drove away?

The burden of proof is for all 12 jurors to convict. Our justice system is the best in the world (although not perfect). Thank you jurors for your hard work and dedication to fairness and justice. You are all credited with making the world a little bit safer.

Let this be yet another lesson to everyone. Don't drink and drive, and DON'T let someone drive if you suspect they are not able to.

With all due respect to the people that lost their life and the person that was severely injured, are they not somewhat accountable for getting in the car with a drunk behind the wheel? Having expressed that, I wish these people were still here...

"At the time of the crash, Gallo was 22 and a recovering alcoholic who had tried twice before to overcome his addiction, his attorney, Jacquline Goodman, said during the trial.

He always made sure he had a designated driver, and in the hours before the crash it was Rivera, his designated driver, who pushed him to drink, she said."

Way to simultaneously not take responsibility for his actions, AND at the same time throw his stepbrother completely under the bus. What a scumbag - I hope they throw the book at this jerk.

Why do they continue to sell alcohol then???

Scary thing is, go to happy hour tonight for Monday Night Football. There are a lot of people driving who will insist they are "OK" when they are not. You should not be allowed to drive under any level of alcohol period.

Excuses don't cut it. That's TWICE he was given another chance and now three are dead, another critically wounded, another hurt, and incalculable pain, suffering, and misery of loss by all their families and loved ones. Mr. Gallo is lucky the people of California are merciful moral cowards because he belongs in the gas chamber at San Quentin, but instead we will provide him free room, board, food, and medical attention for the next 55 years.

"But in the end, she said, even if Gallo was driving, he is not what people have in mind when they think of a murderer. He is a young man with bad judgment who is now caught in a tragic situation, she said."

I'm sorry, but anyone who gets behind the wheel drunk knows there's potential for this to happen. If he hadn't hit Adenhart and friends, he would have been likely to hit and kill someone else. Drunk driving is murder - maybe not by picking a specific victim, but still. Her client should've used common sense and not taken the risk EVEN ONCE. Imagine how many lives would be saved if people used their COMMON SENSE and called a cab or a friend?

I know I'm going to get some criticism for this, but our society has a huge disconnect when it comes to punishing for drinking and driving. We punish the result rather than the poor decision making. The crime in drinking under the influence is in making the decision to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. That decision puts everyone on the road at risk. However, we only give severe punishments (like a potential 55 years in prison) if that person is unlucky enough to get into an accident and kill someone. If Mr. Gallo had instead been pulled over by the police, he would have been arrested, but at most he would have spent a few months in jail, but it wouldn't have been lengthy. However, the behavior that we abhore would have been the exact same.

We need to be stricter when it comes to DUIs that don't result in accidents so that we have fewer accidents from DUIs. For me a DUI should always result in the revocation of a Driver's License for a lengthy period of time (a second DUI should be a permanent revocation). If Gallo's first DUI had resulted in a more serious penalty, then perhaps he wouldn't have been driving that fateful night.

He was informed of what would happen if he was found driving drunk again. I am glad they found him guilty. These people did not deserve to die or the young man that was severly injured to have to have therapy for the rest of his life.

Now that is more like it! However this is still very tragic and should not have happened in the first place. I hope people learn from this and don't drink and drive. Our society is short 3 aspiring young people(who are my age in fact). And California is burdened by another dirt bag that will be sucking 45k a year out of our pockets.

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