Driver Sentenced in Crash That Killed Angel, Two Friends

The crash occurred after an April 2009 game in which the Angels' rookie had just pitched six scoreless innings

A San Gabriel man was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum  term of 51 years to life in prison for driving drunk and causing a crash that  killed three people, including Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart.

Andrew Thomas Gallo, 24, was convicted Sept. 27 of three counts of  second-degree murder, for causing the April 9, 2009, crash in Fullerton that  killed Adenhart, 22, his girlfriend Courtney Frances Stewart, 20, and his  friend Henry Pearson, 25.

Jon Wilhite, 24, of Manhattan Beach, survived the crash, but had to have  his skull reattached to his spine.

Gallo apologized profusely during the sentencing hearing. He denied  claims by some of the victims' families that he smirked when the jury's  verdicts were read in the case.

"I know at times I had a look on my face," he said. "It's because I  have so much hatred for myself and no one else. I would never look at the  families with disrespect."

Deputy District Attorney Susan Price said she asked Orange Count  Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey to impose the maximum penalty ``because we  think that's an appropriate penalty when you have the combination of factors in  this case, including multiple deaths, permanent injuries to a survivor and a  very high blood-alcohol level when he was already on probation for driving  under the influence.''

Toohey rejected a motion for a new trial in the case.


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Adenhart's parents, who live out of state, were unable to attend the  hearing, but a letter from them was read in court.

"We lived with this hole in our family, our hearts, our beliefs and our  lives," according to the parents' statement. "No amount of words will ever  fill that hole or in any way replace the loss of our dear Nick. Nick was  beautiful. That phrase describes him best."

Gallo was driving his stepmother's Toyota Sienna when the minivan  collided with a Mitsubishi Eclipse carrying Adenhart and his friends just after  midnight.

The right-handed rookie was out celebrating the six scoreless innings he  had just pitched at Angel Stadium.

While Adenhart was shutting down opposing hitters, Gallo and his  stepbrother, Raymond Rivera, were drinking heavily at a restaurant, bikini bar  and another tavern before Rivera said he was too drunk to drive and handed  Gallo the keys.

Gallo was driving 66 mph in a 35-mph zone eastbound on Orangethorpe  Avenue when he  ran a red light and the minivan slammed into the Mitsubishi,  which was heading south on Lemon Street.

Gallo's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.19 percent two hours after  the collision, but prosecutors said it was closer to 0.22 percent, nearly  three times the legal limit, at the time of the crash.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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