Jeffrey David Kirby, the man convicted in connection to the death of Tapout founder Charles “Mask” Lewis, 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, had his sentence doled out today by Judge Richard F. Toohey in Santa Ana, Calif.
It was a street race gone wrong as Kirby, who was intoxicated, careened and forced Lewis’ car off the road where it crashed and killed him instantly.
Lewis’ girlfriend, Lacy Lynn White, who was also in the car, suffered severe injuries, but did survive the crash.
“I never hurt anyone intentionally or accidentally in my life,” Kirby told the judge, according to an article by the Orange County Register. “I wish I could right the wrong I have caused … I wish I could reverse the miseries I have caused.”
Prosecutors in the case were actually seeking a sterner sentence for Kirby, who had twice previously been convicted of drunk driving.
Kirby had 1.5 times the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of the arrest. He also tested positive for marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.
Lewis was one of the founding members of the TapouT franchise, which is one of the most popular brands in the mixed martial arts industry. Following his death, an autopsy revealed that Lewis had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
TapouT co-founder Dan “Punkass” Caldwell commented about the conviction following the close of the sentencing on Friday.
“The sentence is less than we expected – we figured he’d get the maximum. 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 the TapouT crew 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.