Football player gets ‘Waterboy’ treatmentWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Some punk vandalized my parents’ house eight years ago. Have you ever heard of the prank where you take a garbage can, fill it with water, lean it against the front door, ring the bell and run away? That’s exactly what happened. Cold water splashed all over my mom and my dog, and the flash flood wrecked our hallway’s hardwood floor, dripped into the basement and ruined my dad’s office equipment. The guy ended up getting caught because he continued to attempt the prank at other houses. He pleaded guilty and served 30 days in jail.
We were momentarily shaken, but not hurt, and since it was the first time I had heard my mother drop the “F-bomb” (quite loudly, I might say), it was quite a hilarious moment. Maybe not for “Waterboy” (as we fondly call him in the family), but at least he still has his health.
The same will never be said of Mario Reyes. The Miami native was running to catch a bus on a Saturday morning when he jaywalked and collided with a car driven by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth. On June 16, the legal proceedings came to a close as Stallworth pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and, looking 15 years of jail straight in the eye, wound up with 30 days in jail.
Now, his sentence is clearly worse than Waterboy’s, as he also received two years house arrest, eight years probation, several hours of community service, court costs and mandatory donations. Still, that’s not much punishment for taking the life of a man whose only crime was punishable by a $62.50 ticket.
I’ve read that some of the factors leading to the reduced jail sentence included Stallworth feeling remorse for the death of Reyes, and that the victim’s family wanted the emotional process of sentencing Stallworth to happen as quickly as possible. Still, Michael Vick served 19 months for running a dog-fighting ring. Browns running back Jamal Lewis was sentenced to four months for setting up a cocaine deal.
I’m not a lawyer, but I play one in this column. Florida Statute 316.193 partially reads: “A person who is convicted of DUI manslaughter shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of four years.” Adding up his jail time, house arrest and community service — a tenuous way to look at it — doesn’t even equal three years of penance. Maybe him feeling bad about what happened reduced the sentence?
Again, I’m no lawyer, but I do understand words in English (one of the more impressive footnotes on my resume) and, subsequently, I know what “mandatory” and “minimum” mean.
Months earlier, just north of Miami, in St. Lucie County, a man named Michael Knecht was convicted of DUI manslaughter. Obviously, the details of his case and Stallworth’s are not the same (Knecht had some illegal drugs in his car, for example), but as a result of killing another motorist while driving drunk, Knecht received 10 years in jail, four years probation and will never be able to drive again.
I missed the part of the Florida statute about DUI manslaughter that read: “If you are a professional football player, the minimum four-year sentence can be reduced to what a person would serve if he vandalized a house, and then he can serve some time confined in his own home, where he can still enjoy the big-screen TV and backyard.”