A 23-year-old San Gabriel man was found guilty of murder Monday in connection with the DUI crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.
Andrew Thomas Gallo was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run in the April 9, 2009, crash, which shocked people across the country when it occurred just hours after Adenhart made his first start of the season for the Angels, pitching six scoreless innings.
Courtney Stewart, 20, a student and former cheerleader at Cal State Fullerton, and Henry Pearson, 25, a law school student who was building a sports management business, also were killed.
"It's a stitch in a wound that's never going to heal," said Chris Stewart, Courtney's father. "But at least it's over."
Stewart's family has been in court almost every day. Her mother wore a pink bracelet, and relatives wore pink clothing as a way of remembering Stewart, whose favorite color was pink.
Adenhart's family did not attend the trial.
Moments after the verdict was read, Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the crash, bowed his head and cried in his seat two rows behind the defendant.
Across the aisle, Gallo's father and stepmother watched quietly as their son was led from the courtroom by Orange County sheriff's deputies. Gallo looked back at them twice, then turned and for a few seconds looked at the victims' families crying and hugging one another.
After leaving the courtroom, the families and prosecutors delivered a clear message.
"People will be prosecuted for murder when they engage in this type of conduct," said Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.
"The gas pedal on an auto in the wrong hands is as dangerous as the trigger on a gun," said Nigel Pearson, Henry's father. "In the wrong hands, it can devastate the lives of many, many people."
Jurors, who deliberated a little more than one day, said their decision was not immediately clear.
The jury was split 9 to 3 on the first day of deliberations, with the minority questioning whether Gallo's actions met the standard of second-degree murder, jurors said.
The question, said juror Dennis Rooney, was: "Did he do this consciously?"
Gallo had been convicted of driving under the influence three years before the crash and was still on probation when it occurred. A test conducted a couple of hours after the crash showed Gallo had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit for driving, officials said.
During the trial, prosecutor Susan Price showed video of Gallo and his stepbrother drinking heavily in a West Covina bikini bar before the crash. The two could be seen giving each other high-fives and hugging each other.
"He did shots knowingly," Rooney said. "He had the opportunity to call a taxi, call his girlfriend, do something. He didn't have to drive."
Some jurors expressed a measure of sympathy for Gallo, who was 22 at the time of the crash and had tried before to stop drinking, and for his family.
"He's young," juror Randy Fields said. "But on the other hand, he had two opportunities to get his act together and he didn't."
Gallo's father and stepmother left shortly after their son was taken out of the courtroom. But they stopped briefly to speak with reporters on the way to the parking lot.
During the trial, said Thomas Gallo, he sat near the victims' families many times.
"I wanted to reach out and say something. But I knew I couldn't," he said.
"Our family is sorry for all that happened," he said. "If this serves them as justice, so be it."
Gallo's sentencing is set for Dec. 10. He faces 50 years to life in prison.