It’s been a long time coming, but justice has finally been served. Jeffrey David Kirby is now a convicted man, facing up to 13 years in prison due to his involvement in the death of Charles Lewis, Jr. Lewis is better known as the one and only “Mask”, one of the founders of arguably the biggest and most well-known MMA apparel company on the planet, TapouT. Mask was tragically taken from us in 2009 in a high-speed car crash. Here are all the details.
Earlier this week, the trial of Jeffrey Kirby took place. Kirby is accused of driving his 1977 Porsche at high speeds in the early hours of the morning of March 11, 2009. Kirby was driving alongside a 2004 Porsche belonging to Lewis when he (Kirby) lost control of his vehicle and collided with Lewis. Lewis then lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a light pole. The collision was so severe that it tore Lewis’ vehicle in half. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene. Kirby then fled the scene and, after being arrested by local police several hours later, was found to have a blood alcohol level of .13, far above the legally-allowed limit of .08. During the trial, the prosecution insisted that Kirby’s blood alcohol level may have been as high as .16 during the time of the crash.
Kirby had previously been charged with driving under the influence in 2002, he reportedly even had to attend meeting/s with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Throughout the trial, the defense insisted that Kirby and Lewis had been racing, that Lewis had been the one to lose control of his vehicle, and that police reports of the accident were sketchy at best. Jurors obviously disagreed: on December 8, 2010, Kirby was found guilty of “one count of gross vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated.” On February 4, 2011, Kirby will be sentenced and could face up to 13 years in jail.
Throughout the week I’ve chosen to stay abreast but not give my opinions on these proceedings. Several MMA websites have covered the trial in an opinion-free, non-biased way. I commend them on that. But I simply wouldn’t have been able to do so, so I chose not to. I have been and likely always will be an opinion columnist. So here it is: my opinion.
I know how harsh this sounds, and please believe me, I do not say this lightly: I hope they throw the book at this pile of trash.
This man was driving drunk and caused the death of an amazing person, one of the best to ever be involved in this sport of ours. Mask’s personality always guaranteed a bit of controversy and even some jealousy, but no one who ever got to know the man ever had an unkind word to say about him. This is a man that believed in himself, this sport, and his brand so fiercely that he stuck with it in its darkest hours, selling t-shirts out of the back of his van while the sport was being derided as “human cockfighting” and being banned across the country. Say what you want about the TapouT brand somehow becoming the go-to line of clothing for “wannabe” MMA frat boys, but Charles Lewis, Jr. and his dedicated staff kept a lot of dreams alive and put a lot of food on a lot of fighter’s tables throughout the years.
So I’m glad Jeff Kirby has been found guilty. I know that can come off as mean and vindictive, but I honestly think that justice has been served. I only hope that several long years in prison helps Kirby realize the damage he’s done. Love me or hate me, I hope Jeff Kirby rots in prison.
So that’s what I think, fans and friends. What about you? What are your feelings on the trial and its conclusion?