Stallworth, victim’s family reach settlement
MIAMI — Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth has agreed to plead guilty to DUI manslaughter charges Tuesday, and reached a financial settlement with the family of the pedestrian he struck and killed in a March car crash, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because they were not authorized to talk about the settlement. The person said the terms of the agreement are confidential but will avoid a potential wrongful death lawsuit from the family of 59-year-old Mario Reyes.
Stallworth, 28, is expected to receive a short jail sentence and a lengthy term of probation if his plea deal is accepted by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy.
Miami Beach police said Stallworth was drinking at the swank Fontainebleau hotel bar before the March 14 crash. He left to go to a nearby home — he owns three properties in the Miami area — in his black 2005 Bentley on MacArthur Causeway, which links the beach to downtown Miami.
Prosecutors say Stallworth hit Reyes, a construction crane operator who was rushing to catch a bus after finishing his shift around 7:15 a.m. Stallworth told police he flashed his lights in an attempt to warn Reyes, who was not in a crosswalk when he was struck.
A spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said Reyes’ family has been pushing hard to resolve the case.
“We have been in intense negotiations for the past couple of days,” spokeswoman Terry Chavez said. “We always take the victim’s wishes into account.”
Stallworth had faced up to 15 years in prison on the DUI manslaughter charge, but the plea deal calls for far less time.
Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126 after the crash, well above Florida’s .08 limit. Stallworth has also has cooperated with investigators and issued a statement shortly after the crash expressing sympathy for Reyes’ family.
Stallworth stopped after the crash and immediately told officers he had hit Reyes. Police estimated Stallworth was driving about 50 mph in a 40 mph zone.
Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns before last season but was injured much of the year. He also has played for New England, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
The National Football League has said it will review the matter for possible disciplinary action after the legal case is completed.
David Cornwell, a Stallworth attorney handling the NFL situation, said he has kept top league officials apprised of the case.
“Whenever it is appropriate to do so, we are prepared to discuss the circumstances under which Donte’ will resume his career,” Cornwell said.
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