San Gabriel man pleads in crash that killed Nick Adenhart

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 6/8/2009 | Resource: MLG

San Gabriel man pleads in crash that killed Nick Adenhart

A San Gabriel man pleaded not guilty today to second- degree murder and other charges stemming from an alleged drinking-related traffic crash that killed 22-year-old Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two companions.

Andrew Thomas Gallo, 22, who is being held on $2 million bail, is due back in a Santa Ana courtroom July 31 for a trial-setting conference.

Gallo did not address the court. His plea was entered by his attorney, Randall Longwith.

After the hearing, Longwith told reporters he would seek a change of venue for the upcoming trial.

“Generally the emotion here, it’s so heated,” said Longwith, adding that both he and his client had received death threats.

Gallo is in the general inmate population at the Orange County Jail, and not in protective custody, Longwith said.

“The threats are coming to (Gallo), and a whole lot to me as well,” he said.

The April 9 crash also claimed the lives of 20-year-old Courtney Stewart, a student and former cheerleader at Cal State Fullerton, and Henry Pearson, 25, a law student working toward becoming a sports agent. Jon Wilhite, 24, of Manhattan Beach, was critically injured in the crash.

Gallo was indicted by the Orange County grand jury on three murder counts, along with one felony count each of fleeing the scene of a traffic collision involving death or permanent injury, driving under the influence causing injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level
of .08 percent or higher causing injury. He also faces sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury.

Gallo has a prior San Bernardino county conviction for driving under the influence in 2006, and was on probation at the time of the crash, said Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Gallo is accused of driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit and running a red light — while driving with a suspended license — when his vehicle crashed into a Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Stewart.

The maroon minivan Gallo was driving, which belongs to his father, was going about 65 mph in a 35 mph zone when he allegedly ran the red light at Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street.

Adenhart, who had pitched six scoreless innings only hours earlier, died on the operating table at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Orange County District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas told reporters at the time that the second- degree murder charges are based on implied malice — meaning Gallo was doing something inherently dangerous with a conscious disregard for the life of others.

He faces a maximum sentence of 54 years and eight months to life in prison if convicted.

Adenhart and his friends were headed to a Fullerton club called In Cahoots at the time of the crash.

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Jeffrey Marquart