The jury selection process for the DUI manslaughter trial of former New York Yankee Jim Leyritz began Monday in a Broward courtroom and will resume Tuesday morning.
Leyritz is accused of driving drunk, running a red light and crashing into a vehicle driven by Fredia Ann Veitch nearly three years ago. The Plantation mother of two was 30 years old when she was killed.
Leyritz has pleaded not guilty.
Seventy-five prospective jurors assembled before Circuit Judge Marc H. Gold right before lunch Monday.
During the afternoon, Gold asked them whether they knew anything about the case, how they learned of it, their media sources, whether they have discussed the case with anyone or have already reached conclusions about it.
"I go beyond that, but I want to know if they've talked about it," Gold told Leyritz's lawyer David Bogenschutz and Assistant State Attorney Stefanie Newman before the panel entered the courtroom.
Prospective jurors were also asked to fill out a 40-question survey created by the defense attorney that asks about family history, education and employment; religious and military background, and familiarity with law enforcement, lawsuits, crime, drug and alcohol treatment and traffic accidents.
Those considered for the jury will also be asked in the questionnaire about their TV sports viewing habits and 44 possible witnesses in the case, including Leyritz's ex-wife, Karrie Leyritz.
The case has attracted national media attention and may be televised live. Jury candidates will also be asked whether they are able to give the defendant a fair trial with cameras present. A reporter from The Associated Press and a producer from the TV program "In Session" were in court Monday and plan to cover the trial.
Prior to the early morning crash in December 2007, Leyritz had been out celebrating his 44th birthday with friends in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
If convicted, the Davie father of three, who is now 46, faces from a 4- to 15-year prison sentence.
Gold has ruled that evidence showing Veitch was more intoxicated than Leyritz, was not wearing a seatbelt and had been receiving text messages around the time of the crash are not admissible at trial.
Jurors also will not hear that Leyritz settled a wrongful-death lawsuit in May with Veitch's family: Leyritz himself will pay the family $1,000 every month for 100 months and his insurance company will pay $250,000 to Veitch's widower and two children.
Leyritz was a member of the Yankees and other teams during his 11-season career. During the 1996 World Series, Leyritz hit a three-run homer that helped the Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves.
In court Monday, he did not wear his championship ring.