Testimony begins in trial; Little facing up to four years

Updated: March 31, 2005, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

CLAYTON, Mo. -- Leonard Little failed several field sobriety tests when stopped for speeding a year ago, the officer who arrested him told jurors Thursday as testimony began in the DWI trial of the St. Louis Rams defensive end.

Ladue Police Officer Gregory Stork said Little "was intoxicated. There's no doubt in my mind."

Scott Rosenblum, Little's attorney, said in his opening argument earlier in the day that the sobriety tests were flawed.

Little is charged with speeding and felony drunk driving as a persistent offender. In 1999, Little pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 47-year-old Susan Gutweiler in a crash in downtown St. Louis.

In that case, Little's blood-alcohol level was nearly twice Missouri's legal limit. Little later served three months in jail, four years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. He also was suspended without pay for the first half of the 1999 season.

If convicted of the DWI charge, Little -- a Pro Bowl selection in 2003 -- could face up to four years in prison and another NFL suspension.

Little was stopped shortly before 4 a.m. last April 24 on Interstate 64.

During testimony, Stork told jurors that Little swayed to keep his balance, placed his hand on his 2003 Mercedes to stay steady, and had watery, bloodshot eyes. He said Little failed three field sobriety tests and submitted to a portable breath test at the scene that detected the presence of alcohol.

But Stork said the 30-year-old refused to take a breathalyzer test once in custody at the Ladue police station within an hour of being pulled over. He later asked to place a call to his attorney.

Rosenblum said Little had only had two beers the morning in question and was not intoxicated when stopped by police, who said Little was driving 78 mph in a 55-mph zone. Little told the arresting officer he had been with friends in downtown St. Louis and was headed home to St. Charles.

Rams coach Mike Martz was among those attending the trial -- in a packed courtroom -- in support of Little.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press