After announcing the sentence in the DUI case of former major league baseball player Jim Leyritz, Judge Marc Gold made an unusual comment.
The judge said he had concerns that jurors might have known more information about the case then what came out at the trial. Specifically, the judge cited a quote from one of the jurors in an article following the trial about the victim in the deadly crash, Fredia Veitch.
One of the jurors was quoted saying that Veitch was not wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred. Judge Gold confirmed with both the prosecution and the defense that the information regarding the seat belt did not come out during the trial.
“If this is true, I believe it should be dealt with,” Judge Gold said.
Two of the jurors who decided the case happened to be in attendance during Leyritz’s sentencing. One of the jurors was sitting in the front row near Leyritz’s ex-wife and sons. The jury foreman was sitting a row behind. Both of them hugged Leyritz after the verdict and were speaking with him during breaks.
I asked the jury foreman, Brian Haul, about the Judge’s comment. He said jurors were not privy to any extra information.
Juror Sharon Wessinger said based on the information from the case, jurors assumed Veitch was not wearing a seat belt.
“That was common sense to us,” Wessinger said. “If you have a seat belt on, you don’t get ejected. It’s almost her own fault for not wearing a seat belt — and I feel so bad saying that — but we all know that it does save lives.”
Leyritz’s attorney David Bogenschutz said he did not believe the judge’s concern would be an issue for appeal.
“You have a small accident like this, you’re not seat belted in, you get ejected,” Bogenschutz said. “They basically put two and two together and came up with the right number.”