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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)

Tragic it is. But the female driver was drunk too! Poor decisions all across the board.

I'd like to see him get one more cocktail, the same 3 type variety that Albert Greenwood Brown hopefully gets this week!

No one forces you to start drinking-so what that Gallo "tried twice" to stop drinking! He purposely killed 3 people and injured 2..then ran. He deserves life in prison in the darkest, dampest cell ever!

To blow a .19, 2 hours after the crash would mean he had significantly more than 3-4 drinks. Depending on his weight and if he were drinking beer or spirits it is probable that he had at least 10 drinks, possibly more. This is definitely drunk driving.

It is a specious argument that Gallo was somehow a responsible drinker because he intended to use a designated driver - - how is choosing to go drinking with your designated driver deemed responsible? Is the defense arguing Gallo's virtue because he took steps to ensure it was someone else rather than him behind the wheel drunk? Yes, everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense, but it is the defense attorney who needs to use some sense, "common" or otherwise.

The fact that Gallo is guilty of murder 2, as defined, is evident from the facts, so I'm not addressing it in my comments; res ipsa loquitor (loose legal translation: "the thing speaks for itself" -- forgive the possible mispelling of Latin;).

Dorothy, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19 equates to much more than 3-4 beers. A rough estimate is 0.02 per drink for a 180 pound male (Each hour the BAC will drop by approximately 0.02 as well). So a 0.19 BAC equates roughly to 9-10 drinks. The fact that his blood was tested hours after the incident indicates that he had even more alcohol in his system. Most states consider a BAC at or above 0.08 to be "drunk" driving. THAT equates to 3-4 beers.

"Is it murder?" No lady it was littering. Write him a citation and cut him loose! Maybe Villy can arrange for a boycott of the manufacturer of Gallo's car. Si Se Puede!!! Viva Arizona!!!

No sympathy for repeat DUI offenders, but this was not a murder. Emotion once again trumps reason in the courtroom.

Don't go easy on him! Give him life, make him rot!

All drunk drivers, on a suspended licence, need to be put away for 25 to life if they get into another accident and kill or maim someone.

Glad (but sad at the same time) that every once in a great big while, the justice system works. At least this career drunk will have the rest of his life to re-live that horrible night over and over and over again. Sounds like the best kind of punishment if you ask me! RIP Adenhart, Stewart & Pearson. Now, why isn't Rivera given the same sentence as well??

I agree w/the verdict. Four lives ruined (including Gallo). And countless family and friends of ALL tragically impacted forever. So, so sad. Gallo, sadly, however unintenionally, is a danger to others. This is a fair verdict.

To Rorick,

When a person makes a conscious decision to drink and then under the influence decides to drive and they get into an accident then they are guilty of murder, As far as I am concerned it is the same as premeditated murder.
They know what the possible consequences can be when they drink and drive

This punk is only sorry because he got caught. If by some chance he had been able to get away and not be identified as the driver, he would be still out drinking and driving in another of mommy and daddy's cars.

If he were a man he would have stood up at arraignment and admitted his guilt and taken his lumps. Instead his family has to make excuses for him and stand by him with some ridiculous defense attorney that is pulling more lame excuses out of her behind than she has brain cells.

Once is an accident or lack of judgment but twice is blatant disregard for anyone but yourself. He deserves the murder conviction and if he gets out of prison before he is 50 it will be a shame. Enjoy the pruno Andrew.

Murder... You are kidding me. Celerbity status help here... The kid is guilty of manslaughter but not murder...

Why do lawyers have to be so slimey...Goodman argued, Gallo and Rivera were so intoxiated that it is possible that Rivera might have actually been the driver? It's
Lawyers and Politicians who have a hard time knowing the truth

Wow he had been convicted in the past and he did it again!?

Man its so tragic that it got to this point, but now he has to pay for what he did. My heart goes out to all the families involved.

Rokrik, you are the only one on here that makes ANY sense at all. Only a couple of months ago a cop from Oakland who pulled out his gun and shot a man lying on the ground in the back, and he only got manslaughter and a couple of years. If you watch the video there's no doubt his actions were deliberate. By this sentencing they have guaranteed that Gallo's life will have been in vain as well.

I am shocked by the knee-jerk reactions here, but when I see the lack of lucidity in the Tea Party I'm not surprised.

Of course it's murder.

The guy is guilty as sin, but you mean to tell me that the DA couldn't negotiate a plea bargain to avoid the expense of trial? Pretty expensive publicity for the DA's office.

i truly do not belive in drinking and driving at all but i cant help but to think what would have been the verdict if this was not a high profile case?

This is the best news I've heard in a long time! Justice finally.
This was murder in every way, shape and form. Maybe if the courts weren't so lenient in the first place, more people wouldn't be so void of "common sense" and "bad judgement." I bet they would find their common sense real fast.

SicknTired - going to make you more sick and tired. I believe he had been stopped more than once for dui before the accident and I also read that he hadn't taken part in the classes and rehab the courts stipulated he take - why his license was suspended. Or something like that. That's why the judge at his last dui said he'd be charged with murder if he killed anyone. This wasn't his second time caught drunk. If I'm wrong, please clarify, but that is what I had read early on.

Stewart was legally drunk, too. Too bad the judge wouldn't allow key defense testimony.

It's obvious, many on the jury based their judgement on feelings and not the law.

Regardless of the verdicts, you did a fine job, Ms. Goodman.

"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.

Posted by: Jason | September 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM

How about speeding, unsafe lane changes, running stop signs/stop lights, etc? Should we throw those people in jail and strip them of their licenses as well? Making the streets safer is a nice idea, but you're not going to make a visible impact by punishing some forms of unsafe driving and not others.

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