LeBeau pleads not guilty to vehicular manslaughter
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Central High School basketball coach charged with killing a seven-year-old while driving drunk entered a not guilty plea Thursday morning.
LeBeau's attorney is already lining up a few angles of his defense, but our legal analyst says there really is no defense. There are just factors that could reduce the ultimate sentence after a conviction.
Loren LeBeau denied guilt through his attorney Thursday, but spoke very little on his own behalf. The Central High School basketball coach only talked when the judge directly addressed him about the conditions of his release from jail on bail. LeBeau isn't allowed to drink at all, and has to attend four AA meetings every week.
Judge Greg Fain told the defendant, "Mr. LeBeau, you're promising these things and agreeing to comply with these conditions?"
Loren LeBeau replied, "Yes, your honor."
Despite the not guilty plea, LeBeau is likely to go from the hard-court to hard time for the crash that killed 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado, according to ABC30 Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi. He says it could take a while, but this case won't ever go to trial.
Capozzi explained, "I see this case down the line where a plea bargain will be worked out and his attorney -- and he has a very good attorney -- will work out the best possible deal that he can for his client."
Jeff Hammerschmidt has outlined some possible defenses in the case -- like bad lighting at the crosswalk, and right-of-way issues with the Maldonado family. And he contradicted Fresno Police statements that LeBeau left the scene for between 15 and 20 minutes.
Hammerschmidt said, "This isn't from our investigation, but from their reports: Mr. LeBeau returned to the scene less than 10 minutes from the time of the accident."
But Capozzi says those defenses don't make LeBeau not guilty, just less punishable.
Capozzi said, "They may be effective in terms of mitigating factors, but I don't see those as a defense to what happened here."
There's some disagreement over how long LeBeau could end up in prison if he's convicted, but it could be as long as 24 years. There's no dispute that that's at least two years less than what he could've received on the original complaint filed last week.
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