By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The young motorist convicted of murder for driving drunk in the car crash that killed Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was sentenced to 51 years to life on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said they sought the maximum term for Andrew Gallo, 24, because the pitcher and two other people died in the crash and his blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.
Gallo was on probation for a previous drunken driving offense at the time.
A jury in September convicted Gallo on three counts of second-degree murder for causing the April 9, 2009 wreck, which took Adenhart's life just hours after he threw six shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics.
The 22-year-old rising star for the Angels made his Major League Baseball debut in 2008 and pitched three games that season.
Also killed were Adenhart's girlfriend, Courtney Stewart, 20, and his friend Henry Pearson, 25.
Jon Wilhite, 24, the fourth person in the Mitsubishi Eclipse that was carrying Adenhart, narrowly survived the crash but had to have his skull reattached to his spinal column.
Adenhart's parents live outside California and did not attend the sentencing, but in a letter read in court they said the crash left them with a hole in their lives.
Some of the victims' families said Gallo smirked when the jury verdicts were read in September. But at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday he apologized, and tried to explain his demeanor during the trial.
"I know at times I had a look on my face," he said. "It's because I have so much hatred for myself and no one else. I would never look at the families with disrespect."
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)