The trial has ended for TapouT founder, Charles “Mask” Lewis, who was killed in a car accident in May, 2009, by a drunk driver in a street race gone horribly wrong. The proceedings ended last week and the sentence was handed down today. Jeffrey David Kirby, the man convicted in the trial, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday in California.
Kirby, who was found guilty in December of one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and for causing great bodily injury to a second victim, was his given his sentence today by Judge Richard F. Toohey in the Santa Ana courtroom. Prosecutors in the case were actually seeking a sterner sentence for Kirby, who had twice previously been convicted of drunk driving. According to eyewitnesses, Kirby’s Porsche stopped for less than five seconds before driving away from the scene. A blood test performed more than two hours later indicated that Kirby’s blood alcohol level was 0.13, which is 1.5 times the legal limit of alcohol at the time of the arrest. An autopsy revealed that Lewis had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
“The sentence is less than we expected — we figured he’d get the maximum,” said TapouT co-founder Dan “Punkass” Caldwell to MMA Weekly. “I’m not sure Kirby is truly remorseful, but he will have time to think about this in prison and I hope he realizes the impact this has had on all of us. Even in death, I hope Charles will change Kirby’s life for the better. Charles “Mask” Lewis will never be replaced. He was our friend, a father, a dreamer and a great businessman. I’m proud to say he was my friend and mentor — I’ll never forget him.”
Friend and fellow member of TapouT Tim “Skrape” Katz added, “I hope Kirby understands he needs to make better choices and that his actions greatly affect others. I hope he learns and grows from this terrible accident. Mask and I were inseparable for 13 years. There isn’t a half hour that goes by that I don’t think about Charles.”
Lewis was posthumously placed in the UFC Hall of Fame, the only non-fighter to receive the honor from the UFC. He is survived by two children and the legacy he left behind to the sport of MMA.