Thursday, July 2, 2009
Judge says he won't release video
MIAMI -- A judge refused Thursday to release surveillance video depicting the moment a car driven by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian in a drunk-driving crash.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy said the privacy interests of the family of victim Mario Reyes outweighed the public's right to view the video. Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, made public records requests seeking release of the video.
"This is akin to autopsy photographs," Murphy said at a hearing, adding that the video would remain sealed "for the foreseeable future as far as I'm concerned."
Prosecutors said the video, recorded by a Florida Power & Light camera, shows Reyes running across MacArthur Causeway on March 14 and being struck by Stallworth's 2005 Bentley luxury car. On a recorded 911 call, Stallworth said that Reyes "came out of nowhere" before the crash.
A police report said Reyes, a construction crane operator just leaving his job, was rushing to catch a bus home when the crash occurred.
Tests later showed that Stallworth, who had been drinking that night at a swank Miami Beach nightclub, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.126, well above Florida's 0.08 legal limit. Stallworth's attorneys also have confirmed that blood tests showed traces of marijuana as well.
Stallworth, 29, is serving a 30-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter, which will be followed by two years of house arrest, probation and other restrictions. Stallworth reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the Reyes family but has also been suspended indefinitely by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Stallworth attorney Christopher Lyons received permission from Murphy to view the video in the future. Because the video apparently shows that Reyes darted out into traffic, it could have a bearing on the ultimate punishment imposed on Stallworth by the NFL.
"If I do need to view the video, I would abide by any court order that there be no duplication," Lyons told the judge.
Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns before last season but was injured for much of the year. He has also played for New England, Philadelphia and New Orleans and was a college star at Tennessee.