Browns WR Donte Stallworth Kills a Guy, Gets Slap on Wrist

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm
Stallworth in court on June 16, 2009

Stallworth in court on June 16, 2009

You may have heard this already, but Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth just began serving a 30 day jail sentence following a DUI Manslaughter conviction for a March 14th incident that resulted in the death of 59 year-old Mario Reyes.

Yes, you read that right: On the night of March 14th, Donte Stallworth stumbled into his car with a .126 BAC, took off from the parking lot of the Foutainebleau Hotel, and proceeded to drive his 2005 Bentley directly through a construction crane operator who was running to catch a bus after finishing up his shift at 7:15 AM.

Reyes was killed instantly, and as punishment, Stallworth has to spend the next 24 days in prison after being given credit for 1 day already served and 5 free days as part of a Florida state statute stating that any person sentenced to 30 days in jail automatically gets 5 credit days.

So, let me be clear here: Professional athlete Donte Stallworth gets 24 days of jail time for drunkenly killing someone, while construction worker Mario Reyes gets infinity days of death for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Doesn’t really seem fair, does it? And don’t even get me started on the “Get out of jail free” cards they are throwing around down there in Florida.

Stallworth’s 30 day sentence looks even more ridiculous when viewed in light of the fact that Michael Vick was just released from prison this spring after serving two years for overseeing a dog fighting ring. Let me say that again: Vick was circuitously responsible for the death of dogs, and he received a sentence that was 24 times longer than the one given to a guy who was directly responsible for the death of a human being. How does that make any sense? Hell, Michael Vick could have strangled the judge’s poodle in the middle of the damn courtroom and he still should have received a lesser sentence than Stallworth’s. Furthermore, when Vick was convicted, he was – and probably still is – bombarded by PETA protesters clutching signs featuring slogans such as “Neuter Number 7!” and “Kick Vick!”

Where are all the Stallworth protestors?

Oh wait, I think I get it – because Mario Reyes had the disadvantage of being a fellow, hard-working human being rather than a cute, furry puppy, no one feels the need to get out the Sharpies and draw up a funny sign. Is that it?

The hypocrisy is intolerable. Guys like Vick and former NBA official Tim Donaghy do hard, lengthy jail time for minor stuff like dog fighting and fixing NBA games while the drunken, murdering Stallworths of the world get off easy. I guess if the crime doesn’t hit the average American in his wallet or his dog house, he simply can’t be bothered to care too much about it.

Many in the law field are offering up excuses today for why Stallworth faced such a light sentence. He acted like a man by immediately owning up to the crime and calling the police, they say. Plus, he never meant to kill anybody. It was just an accident.

An accident? A drunk driving fatality is an accident the same way playing with a loaded gun and mistakenly shooting someone is an accident. Sure, Stallworth didn’t really mean to kill anybody, but the minute he finished his last drink and sat down behind the wheel of his Bentley, ol’ Donte pulled tight the last knot on Mario Reyes’ noose.

For some reason, in this country celebrity drunk drivers are let off the hook time and time again. Kiefer Sutherland celebrated his third DUI arrest in 2007 with a mere 48 days in jail, and Charles Barkley was given 3 days after being cited for drunk driving in late 2008. The married Barkley’s excuse – that he was in a rush to receive oral sex from his female passenger – soon became a national joke, and Barkley was back on TNT in no time. What the court system apparently fails to realize is that driving drunk is tantamount to waving around a loaded gun in a supermarket. It might not go off, but everyone around you is still in pretty serious danger. Drunk driving is definitely more dangerous than say, orchestrating a dog fight or shaving points in an NBA game. Yet for some reason the penalties for those crimes are significantly lighter. Especially if the defendant in question happens to be a high-profile professional athlete or a famous actor and can afford round-the-clock coverage by the best lawyers money can buy.

Somewhere, Johnnie is smiling today.

Somewhere, Johnnie is smiling today.

Unfortunately , the rest of us Joe Shmoes can’t pay for the finest lawyers or settle out of court for millions of dollars with the family of the man we just mistakenly killed, like Stallworth did. We have to take our lumps as they come, facing actual jail time and steeper fines. That is a fundamental flaw in the American judicial system and it’s one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Judges and lawyers can thump their copies of the Constitution all day long and exclaim that money doesn’t rule the day when it comes to our esteemed court system. And maybe they are right. Wealth can’t buy freedom, just look at Stallworth – he has to go away for 24 whole days! But just think what would have happened if it had been the blue-collar Reyes who had hit and killed Stallworth. He’d scrape together a little money to hire a lawyer, pack his bags, and wait for the inevitable lengthy sentence. The media would paint him as the bad guy – as opposed to Stallworth, who is being commended for not leaving the crime scene – and when the gavel finally hit, some judge would send Reyes away for 10 years, maybe more. And the American public would applaud because, hey, that’s what should happen when you kill someone.

So sure, maybe money can’t actually buy a lighter sentence but not even the late Johnnie Cochran could argue against the fact that, in this country, dollars dilute justice. We see it play out every day in courtrooms across America. Until that changes, guys like Mario Reyes will continue to die while celebrities like Donte Stallworth dodge hard time by pulling out their checkbook. It’s sickening and it’s wrong, but until something is done, the old adage will remain:

If the dollars fit, you must acquit.

  1. Completely disagree with this article. Everyother article on this site is great and I am a faithful follower but you got it wrong here. I am not downplaying the seriousness of this event but you have to look at all the facts. The guy that was killed by eye witness accounts darted out in front of stallworths car in the middle of the road. Now he was loaded when he was driving but who is to say that he could have stopped if he were sober?!? Also, you fail to realize that the victims family settled out of court with stallworth and he was sentenced to two years of house arrest. Secondly, you cannot compair stallworth and Vick or Donaghey. Vick’s acts were malicous and calculated. He continued to kill dogs he thought were weak and unfit to fight. He would have someone come to his place and paint the building where he killed dogs in so that no one could see it. He was doing this for more than 7 years and funded it. Now im not saying what dante did wasn’t bad but he did not set out and intend to kill someone. What he did was the same thing that could have happened to any of you or your friends on a given night or weekend. Love the sight, keep it up

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