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Friend Of Yankees’ Billy Martin Convicted In Fatal Crash

September 18, 1990 GMT

PORT CRANE, N.Y. (AP) _ A friend of Yankees baseball manager Billy Martin, who claimed he wasn’t driving in the accident that killed Martin, was found guilty Tuesday of an alcohol-related charge stemming from the crash.

William Reedy, 53, a Detroit bar owner, was cleared of a lesser charge of driving while impaired by a Town of Fenton Court jury that deliberated for about two hours.

He was convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent or more, a misdemeanor. The charge carries the same penalties in New York as driving while intoxicated, but is lodged against some drivers when intoxication is difficult to prove in court, said George Filieau, spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Reedy was fined $350 and his driving privileges in New York state were revoked for at least six months.

Martin, 61, who died of head and neck injuries, was a member of five World Series championship teams with the Yankees during an 11-year playing career. He acquired a battling, contentious reputation in the 16 years he managed in the major leagues, in New York, Minnesota, Detroit, Texas and Oakland.

He did five stints as manager of the Yankees, feuding and making up with then-owner George Steinbrenner.

The jury felt Reedy wasn’t impaired because of his high tolerance level for alcohol, but it did find that he was legally over the 0.10 percent limit, said Kevin Guyette, assistant Broome County district attorney.

″We’ve never denied that Mr. Reedy was drinking, and the jury’s verdict showed that drinking had no affect whatsoever on the accident,″ said Jon Blechman, Reedy’s attorney.

Reedy and his wife had been celebrating Christmas at Martin’s 150-acre farm outside Binghamton in upstate New York. The crash occurred while Reedy and Martin were returning home after running errands and stopping for drinks. Blechman said he was considering appealing.

Reedy declined to comment on the verdict.

Martin’s wife, Jilluann, said ″we are gratified with the verdict. Now maybe Billy can rest in peace.″

She has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the town and Reedy.

Authorities said Reedy was driving Martin’s pickup on Dec. 25, 1989, when it slid off a snow-covered county road and crashed into a culvert near the entrance to Martin’s farm.

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Reedy’s defense centered on Blechman’s contention that his client wasn’t behind the wheel.

Blechman told the jury that Reedy initially told authorities he was driving when the accident occurred to protect his longtime friend. Martin had a history of alcohol-related brawls and other problems.

Guyette countered that Reedy was trying to protect himself by changing his story about who was driving.