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Mass. Jury Acquits BoSox’s Vaughn

March 4, 1998

BOSTON (AP) _ Boston Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn was acquitted by a jury Tuesday on charges of drunken driving.

Vaughn stood expressionless as the verdict was read.

The jury returned the verdict after hearing testimony for two days and deliberating for three hours.

District Court Judge Gerald Alch had instructed the jury that ``a person does not have to be drunk or unconscious to be under the influence.″

Vaughn, 30, was arrested Jan. 9 on his way home from a Providence, R.I., strip club after he hit a disabled car in the breakdown lane of Interstate 95 in Norwood. Vaughn’s sport utility vehicle rolled over but the slugger suffered no injuries.

Vaughn’s license has already been suspended for six months because he refused to take a breathalyzer test. He also was fined $100 for driving outside marked lanes.

Vaughn’s lawyers had argued that the first baseman’s injured leg might have contributed to his failure of eight sobriety tests. But prosecutors on Tuesday offered rebuttal evidence: video highlights of Vaughn playing for the Red Sox to show there was nothing wrong with his knee.

Both sides then wrapped up their cases and presented closing arguments before Alch put the case in the jury’s hands.

Prosecutor Elaina Quinn reminded jurors Tuesday that six people testified they smelled alcohol on Vaughn’s breath after the accident. Even a defense witness testified that Vaughn had been straddling the solid white line at the edge of the traveling lane when he hit the car, she said.

That, combined with police testimony about the failed sobriety tests, left no doubt that Vaughn was drunk, Quinn argued. Vaughn had declined to take a Breathalyzer test at the scene.

``There was no (other) reason for that car to be over that line at 2 o’clock in the morning,″ she said in her closing argument.

The defense case was bolstered Tuesday by testimony from an accident-reconstruction expert who said the car Vaughn hit was nearer to the exit ramp and closer to the traveling lane than police had said.

Wilson Dobson said Vaughn would’ve had less than 2.2 seconds to react to the car, considering his speed and the range of his headlights. Even a star baseball player would have trouble avoiding the hazard, Dobson testified.

``You take him out of a ballfield and put him in a car, and he’s no more trained than the rest of us,″ he said.

Kevin Reddington, Vaughn’s attorney, also called a college student who was one of the first on the scene of the accident.

Jared Berhoe testified he helped Vaughn out of his overturned pickup truck after the crash and asked him if he was hurt.

``I would not say that he was intoxicated by looking and talking to him,″ Berhoe said.

But Berhoe gave potentially damaging testimony to the defense when he described, under cross-examination, how the occupants of his car watched Vaughn take the sobriety tests.

``He wasn’t doing too well and he failed them,″ Berhoe said.

Police testified that, when asked to recite the alphabet, Vaughn got to ``P″ and stopped. Given two more tries, he garbled the order of the letters.

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