Browns' Donte Stallworth Gets 30 Days for DUI

Donte Stallworth is serving a 30-day sentence for a man's drunk driving death.

June 17, 2009, 7:43 PM

June 18, 2009 — -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth begins his second day of a 30-day jail sentence today for killing a pedestrian while driving drunk in Florida.

The 28-year-old National Football League star's abbreviated jail term came because of his cooperation with investigators and the wishes of the victim's family.

Stallworth pleaded guilty Tuesday to manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol in exchange for a lighter sentence. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for the car crash that killed a pedestrian in Miami Beach.

The player had faced up to 15 years in jail for the death of 59-year-old construction worker Mario Reyes, who apparently was running across the street to catch a bus when the athlete hit him with his car March 14.

The average jail sentence for similar crimes in Florida is 10 years, but Stallworth reached a confidential financial settlement with Reyes' family.

"I am truly sorry," Stallworth said at his DUI manslaughter sentencing.

Authorities also suspended Stallworth's driver's license for life and ordered him to pay $10,000 in fines and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

After his release from jail, Stallworth must serve two years of house arrest and spend eight years on probation.

Another one of the terms of Stallworth's plea deal is that he has to make a $225,000 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or M.A.D.D. But according to M.A.D.D. national president Laura Dean-Mooney, the group doesn't want Stallworth's money.

"If we took the settlement, we would agree with the settlement, and we don't agree," Dean-Mooney explained. "Drunk driving is a serious, serious crime. In this case, Mr. Stallworth killed someone, and we believe that taking the money would not send the right message to the community and to the nation.

M.A.D.D. also disagrees with the abbreviated sentence for a crime Dean-Mooney said is "100 percent preventable."

"We want to see that the punishment fit the crime," she said.

Stallworth might be allowed to play football during the time he is under house arrest, if his community control officer and the NFL allow it, because people under house arrest are usually permitted to go to work or school, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office said.

M.A.D.D. is pressuring the NFL to make his league-related punishment more than a "slap on the wrist."

"A person died -- a person who was completely innocent, doing nothing wrong. So putting him back on the field would probably send the wrong message to his fans and to the rest of the NFL players who have chosen to make bad decisions and drink and drive as well," Dean-Mooney said.

Stallworth had been partying in Miami when he struck and killed Reyes. Blood tests showed the athlete had a blood alcohol level of 0.126 -- well above Florida's legal limit of 0.08 -- when he hit Reyes with his black Bentley GT coupe as Reyes ran across the MacArthur Causeway after finishing his shift as a crane operator.

Celebrity Justice?

Critics wonder if Stallworth's punishment is just another example of celebrity justice, but prosecutors said Stallworth's behavior after the accident led them to push for leniency.

"He cooperated with police. He never left the scene, he said he wanted to help the family and make things right with the Reyes family," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.

Yet, some wonder if Stallworth's wealth bought him his brief stay behind bars.

"If you cannot afford to settle the civil case and help out the family you have damaged, then you are going to get a longer sentence. That's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life," criminal defense attorney Roy Black said.

But other football stars haven't enjoyed the same mercy as Stallworth. Former Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick served 23 months in a federal prison for bankrolling a dog-fighting operation. The once popular player saw fans turn on him, endorsements disappear and his once promising career vanish.

"There was outrage over what Vick was doing with the dogs, whereas with Stallworth, the family was supporting him," Black said. "This was not an intentional kind of act ... whereas with Mr. Vick, for several years he was intentionally fighting dogs. I think that's what drove his penalty to make it higher than what happened with Stallworth."

The Falcons formally relinquished their contractual obligations to the 28-year-old troubled quarterback Friday.

"In the event NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to reinstate Michael, we feel his best opportunity to re-engage his football career would be at another club," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement on the Falcons' Web site.

The No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL draft and a three-time All-Pro quarterback with the Falcons remains on supervised home confinement in Virginia and suspended by the NFL.

Reuters contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events