Jeffrey David Kirby was convicted on Wednesday of charges relating to a March 2009 accident in California killing TapouT co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis. Specifically, Kirby was found guilty by a jury of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated and faces up to thirteen years in prison as a result. Sentencing could also increase based on the gross amount of physical trauma inflicted on Lewis but is not expected to actually take place until early February 2011.
According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Kirby was driving at a high rate of speed alongside Lewis’ Ferrari when he lost control, ran into the car, and ultimately caused it to hit the cement base of a roadside light-post and be torn in half.
The 53-year old’s blood-alcohol content was found to be 0.13 when apprehended two hours after initially fleeing the scene. California’s legally BAC limit is 0.08. Kirby had previously been arrested for driving under the influence in 2002.
Yesterday’s ruling will hopefully bring a small amount of closure to those affected by his passing. Known for his dedication to seeing the sport grow, genuine kindness, and distinct laugh, Lewis’ death was felt from top to bottom in the sport’s community. In a release prior to his memorial service, his co-founders at TapoutT elaborated on his personable nature and love of Mixed Martial Arts, saying, “Whether you’re a fan of MMA or not, Charles’ goal was to inspire people to make a difference in the world and never settle for anything less than their dreams. With TapouT, he reached more people than we could have ever imagined, and his dedication to the sport and brand will live on forever through his fans around the world.”