Trial to begin in crash that killed Mask

Friday, November 19, 2010

Twenty months after the crash, repeat drunk-driver Jeffrey David Kirby will go on trial on vehicular manslaughter and other charges. Jury selection before Judge Richard F. Toohey should begin later this month.

Kirby, 53, could be sentenced to 18 years in state prison if convicted. He has been held in custody on $500,000 bail since the night of the crash.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez  contends that Kirby, who ran an audio-visual business, was driving with a blood/alcohol content that was nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed his Porsche into Lewis’ high-performance Ferrari while both of them were speeding on Jamboree Road between Bison Avenue and East Bluff Drive.

During a preliminary hearing last year in the Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach Police Officer Todd Hughes testified that Kirby admitted – after he was arrested – to driving too fast and losing control of his Porsche.

Hughes testified that Kirby told him he sped his Porsche next to Lewis’ Ferrari in order for his date to see the expensive sports car close up. But as the two cars raced south of Jamboree, Baez contends, Kirby lost control of his car and started spinning, striking the Ferrari in the process and sending it careening to disaster.

Detectives found receipts in Kirby’s wallet that revealed he had been drinking at two bars earlier that evening, one in San Juan Capistrano and the other in Irvine.

Kirby has two prior DUIs – in 1985 and in 2002..

The Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Kirby, of Costa Mesa, with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, plus a penalty enhancement for fleeing the scene of the crash.

Kirby left the scene after stopping briefly at the crash site. He was arrested a short distance away, walking from his Porsche, which he had parked on a side street. He registered a .13 blood/alcohol level two hours after the crash, and he also had marijuana in his system, prosecutors said.

Lewis, who became known as “Mask” to his fans for his penchant of painting stripes on his face and donning a top hat, had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he died, according to toxicology reports.

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