WWE star sentenced to 17 years in prison over deadly DUI car crash

WWE star sentenced to 17 years in prison over deadly DUI car crash

Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Tamara Sytch has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for her role in a fatal drunk driving accident in Daytona Beach.

Sytch, 50, was convicted of killing Julian LaFrancis Lasseter, an Ormond Beach man, while she was driving drunk in March 2022.

The WWE Hall of Famer spent the 1990s ringside at wrestling matches acting as the often opportunistic "Sunny," who escorted wrestlers to their matches, wrestled herself and later became an occasional commentator and host on the company’s programming.

She was a mainstay in numerous storylines until her departure from the company in 1998, and is often credited as its first "diva" — a term that the WWE later used for its women wrestlers, but abandoned in 2016.

Mr Lasseter, 75, was stopped at the intersection of US 1 and Granada Boulevard when Sytch failed to brake and smashed into the back of his car, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Sytch had a blood alcohol content of .280, which is three-and-a-half times above the legal limit of .08 under Florida law, according to police.

She was released from jail on 7 May, a day after her arrest, and posted a $227,500 bail. However, a week later a circuit judge granted the prosecution's request to revoke her bond on the grounds that she "poses a threat of harm to the community."

On 26 August, Sytch pleaded no contest to a single count of DUI manslaughter, a count of causing a death while driving on a suspended license, four counts of DUI with damage to a person, and two counts of DUI with damage to property.

She initially pleaded not guilty to the DUI causing death and other charges before changing her plea to no contest.

Sytch was eventually handed over to a public defender after her attorney, Steven deLaroche, filed a motion to stop representing her on the grounds that she had not complied with the terms of his employment agreement.

Her fiance, James Pente, offered an apology to Mr Lasseter's family after one of her earlier hearings. He said she felt bad for killing the elderly man.

"She feels absolutely terrible. I can't emphasise it more. She just feels bad in general," he said. "Everybody's life's ruined."

Sytch had several arrests for driving under the influence prior to the fatal accident. On 30 May 2015, Sytch was arrested in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, on numerous charges including driving under the influence. She was arrested again in June of the same year in the same county, also on driving under the influence charges.

Later that month she was arrested a third time for drunk driving.