SANTA ANA – A San Clemente man wept, apologized and asked for forgiveness Friday moments before he was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a high-speed, alcohol-fueled crash during a street race in Newport Beach that killed a millionaire mixed-martial arts entrepreneur.
"I never hurt anyone intentionally or accidentally in my life," Jeffrey David Kirby told Superior Court Judge Richard F. Toohey. "I wish I could right the wrong I have caused...I wish I could reverse the miseries I have caused...
"I never should have driven that night after drinking alcohol," he said wiping tears from his eyes. "I will never recover from this tragedy...I am very sorry."
Kirby, 53, was convicted after a two-week jury trial in December of one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, plus a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury to a second victim.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez said Kirby was racing his 1977 Porsche at speeds topping 100 mph against a 2004 Ferrari driven by Charles Lewis Jr. on winding Jamboree Road in the early morning hours of March 11, 2009. Kirby, who was drunk, lost control of his speeding Porsche and collided with the Ferrari, sending it careening off the road, Baez said.
The Ferrari slammed into a concrete light pole and disintegrated. Lewis, who was known as "Mask" by fans of mixed-martial arts, was killed instantly. Lacy Lynn White, Lewis' girlfriend and passenger, suffered serious injuries when she was thrown from the high-speed sports car on impact. But she survived.
Baez argued for the aggravated term of 13 years in prison, contending in part that Kirby knew that drinking and driving as dangerous because of two prior drunken-driving convictions, but chose to do so anyway.
Defense attorney Mark Fredrick asked for leniency for Kirby, contending he had never had a client who was more remorseful.
Toohey cited that remorse and noted that Lewis joined in the dangerous conduct by racing with Kirby when he opted for a mid-term sentence rather that an aggravated one.
The judge handed down his sentence after he listened to poignant victim-impact statements from Lewis business partner, brother, sister and fiancé.
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