Ex-Yankee slugger Jim Leyritz had a momentary crying meltdown Thursday afternoon during his DUI manslaughter trial, and jurors were excused while he composed himself.
Leyritz is accused of driving drunk, running a red light and hitting a vehicle driven by Fredia Ann Veitch, of Plantation. The 30-year-old mother of two died after she was thrown from her Mitsubishi Montero SUV in the intersection of Southwest Seventh Avenue and Second Street in Fort Lauderdale.
Triggering Leyritz's crying jag was testimony by a traffic-homicide investigator who said she had disregarded an e-mail notifying her that a colleague had located a video showing a dark-colored Mitsubishi SUV traveling east of the accident site about 10 minutes before the fatal collision.
Prosecutors say Leyritz's blood alcohol level of .18 was twice the legal limit at the time of the 3:20 a.m. crash on Dec. 28, 2007.
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Leyritz's attorney, David Bogenschutz, contends that the video could show the accident may have occurred about 10 minutes earlier than reported and would therefore skew calculations of his client's blood-alcohol level.
If the accident happened even 10 minutes earlier, Bogenschutz has argued, his client would have been less drunk than prosecutors claim, because there was less time for what he drank to take effect.
When Leyritz broke down, Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold halted investigator Jill Hirsch's testimony, sent the jury out of the courtroom, and pointed Bogenschutz toward his red-faced, crying defendant.
"Judge, can I be excused for a minute?" Leyritz asked.
After he stepped out of the courtroom, Leyritz could be heard sobbing and blowing his nose. He returned after about five minutes and Hirsch's testimony resumed.
Hirsch said she disregarded the video because the timing was off and the victim's Mitsubishi was dark green, not black.
"I did not put it together with the victim's vehicle. It was not in synch with the time of the crash occurring," Hirsch testified. "Not with 100 percent certainty, no, I do not know that that's her vehicle."
It wasn't until Bogenschutz made a public records request for the video that Hirsch took note of the black-and-white video, Hirsch testified.
If convicted, Leyritz, 46, a father of three from Davie, faces a sentence of four to 15 years in prison.
The trial will resume Monday morning.