An exceedingly unfortunate series of events occurred in the early hours of Saturday, March 14 in Miami. A 59 year-old construction crane operator named Mario Reyes was rushing to catch a bus after finishing his overnight shift. Miles away, Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth was spending the night partying at the bar of Miami Beach’s elegant Fountainebleau hotel. Stallworth was likely celebrating his $4.5-million roster bonus payment from the Browns, negotiated as part of a “second signing bonus” in his $35-million contract with $10 million guaranteed in March of 2008.
Stallworth and Reyes, two people who otherwise would never have come into contact, met in a truly tragic manner. On the way home from his celebratory night, Stallworth’s Bentley struck and killed Reyes, who allegedly was not in the crosswalk at the time. Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126 after the crash, well above Florida’s .08 limit. In the blink of an eye, the lives of Stallworth and – much more tragically – the Reyes family (including Mario Reyes’ 15-year-old daughter) were irrevocably changed. Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter, which carries a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The plea bargain – one month in jail followed by two years of house arrest, eight years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service – hardly seems to fit the crime. Indeed, I’ve heard many cries of selective justice suggesting that an ordinary person – not a professional athlete with considerable resources – would not have been able to secure that deal.
Those cries are, well, accurate. Resources and fame do buy some favorable treatment in the judicial system; we would be na