Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another athlete getting off easy, or has justice been served?

Donte Stallworth, wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, plead guilty and will serve 30 days in prison for killing a pedestrian while driving under the influence in Florida back in March. As part of the plea agreement, he agrees to pay the family of the victim $5 million in damages, and he also has 2 years of house arrest and 8 years of probation coming his way. The question is this, is this the proper end to another story of a high profile athlete or celebrity caught driving under the influence and killing someone?

When looking at the way the laws are written in Florida, you could actually see this result coming. Mario Reyes, the gentleman struck by Stallworth, was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, and it would have been determined, had the case gone further, that he was half responsible for the situation, despite the fact that Stallworth's blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. Doesn't make sense to me, I feel that driving while intoxicated should trump that completely, but the laws are in place, and they tend to side with the drivers in Florida.

The other piece is that Reyes' 14 year old daughter just wanted this to be over with, she didn't want to drag this out, and who can blame her. The two parties agreed that $5 million would sufficiently satisfy, and Stallworth was very good about doing whatever he could to help during the entire process.

All that being said, is this less horrific than what Michael Vick was a part of? I want to preface this with saying that I think Michael Vick got exactly what he deserved. It is my ultimate desire that he never sets foot on the playing field again, and is forced to work construction for $10 an hour for the rest of his life. But, all that being said, Stallworth killed a human being. Do we, as a society, put a larger value on the life of dogs than humans? Have we become immune to the stories of drunk driving, and the horrible consequences? I just don't understand how athletes and celebrities that kill human beings while driving drunk continue to get a minor slap on the wrist, while you or I would be put away for life. Just doesn't seem to add up to me, I'm just saying...