WWE Hall of Famer Tammy Sytch’s sentencing hearing is currently underway in Volusia County, Florida. We will provide updates as we confirm more details here at Ringside News.
Sytch is present at the sentencing, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit.
Judge Karen A. Foxman has acknowledged that Sytch entered a no contest plea to multiple charges, including DUI Manslaughter, causing death while operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, DUI causing injury to a person (four counts), and DUI causing damage to property (three counts).
These charges are related to the tragic incident in March 2022 that resulted in the death of 75-year-old Julian Lasseter during a traffic incident in Ormond Beach, Florida.
In the courtroom, both the defense and the prosecution have enlisted the expertise of expert witnesses to make their case regarding Tammy Sytch’s appropriate sentencing. The defense will initiate their presentation, during which they plan to have multiple psychiatrists testify about Sytch’s mental health issues.
Testimony is being provided by a forensic psychologist from Texas who conducted an examination of Sytch in the spring of 2023. During this examination, it was revealed that Sytch had previously received treatment for various medical and psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, pancreatitis, back pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Tammy also reported experiencing nightmares in which she was subjected to incidents of choking, physical assault, and being attacked by her “most recent partner.”
The forensic psychologist had the opportunity to meet with Tammy Sytch on two occasions, including a Zoom call in October 2023. During their sessions and through additional discussions, it was discovered that both of Sytch’s parents had grappled with alcoholism. This information was confirmed by Tammy’s sister, Laurie, who disclosed their family’s history of dependency issues and alcohol-related problems.
Additionally, the psychologist consulted with Missy Leslie, the wife of Brutus Beefcake. Missy shared insights revealing a pattern of abusive relationships with men in Tammy’s life, as well as a prevalent atmosphere of chaos and alcohol abuse within her social circles.
Sytch’s life has been marked by periods of both stability and struggle. There were moments when everything seemed to be going well, but she also faced times when she turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism for her issues. It’s worth noting that Sytch’s brother also battled alcohol-related problems.
Furthermore, Sytch endured significant emotional challenges, including profound grief and loss. These included the loss of her father, the tragic passing of her niece in a car accident, and the death of Chris Candido, with whom she had a 16-year relationship. Although the psychologist initially mentioned a blood clot related to flying as the cause of Chris’s death, it’s important to note that the Candido family has since clarified that he passed away from pneumonia. The psychologist explained that Sytch experienced cycles of euphoria and depression, indicating a complex emotional journey.
Tammy Sytch’s journey in the world of professional wrestling was influenced by her desire to be with Chris Candido. Consequently, she opted not to pursue a scholarship opportunity in Miami and instead attended school in Connecticut and Pennsylvania before eventually relocating to Knoxville. Her involvement in professional wrestling began with Smoky Mountain Wrestling and later WWF (now WWE), where she divided her time between the two promotions, working for one for three days and the other for four days.
Sytch’s career in the wrestling industry involved significant movement across different organizations and a substantial amount of broadcasting work. Initially, she was not actively wrestling but was eventually “thrown in the ring” to participate in matches. The wrestling world during that era was known for its prevalence of drugs, pills, and pain medication, which had a significant presence and impact on many individuals within the industry.
Sytch faced several physical challenges during her wrestling career, including tearing her ACL and quad, as well as suffering from nearly half a dozen concussions. It’s worth noting that she did not have medical insurance to cover her healthcare expenses during this time. The psychologist expressed the belief that she turned to alcohol and Xanax as coping mechanisms for these physical and emotional difficulties.
Regarding her relationships, the psychologist began by discussing her relationship with Chris Candido. It was noted that Sytch came to recognize that Candido was the one person who consistently loved her. However, she acknowledged making mistakes in that relationship, including becoming involved with another wrestler. This suggests a complex and tumultuous personal history in her romantic life.
According to the psychologist’s assessment, Tammy Sytch meets the criteria for borderline personality disorder. This condition is characterized by a profound sensitivity to rejection, where individuals often interpret situations with a “bated breath” and an “end of the world” mentality. Even when faced with abusive behavior from others, those with borderline personality disorder may desperately seek to regain love and approval, leading to impulsive actions. Borderline personality disorder is indeed a psychiatric disorder that can significantly impact an individual’s emotional and relational well-being.
The mention of Tammy Sytch’s difficulty with being alone, along with her relationships with various individuals, provides further context for her struggles with borderline personality disorder and the challenges she faced in her personal life.
The psychologist’s account highlights some deeply troubling aspects of Tammy Sytch’s life, including instances of physical abuse and death threats directed at her and her mother, as per Sytch’s own testimony. These accounts reveal a pattern where she struggled to extricate herself from abusive relationships and, at times, found herself drawn back into them. The psychologist noted one particular police report in which false information was provided, possibly to protect her abuser from facing domestic abuse charges. It is evident that Sytch had a tendency to almost apologize for being the victim of abuse and went through cycles of sobriety and self-medication in response to her feelings of abandonment and abuse.
The psychologist also mentioned Sytch’s relationship with independent wrestler Damian Darling, in which she discovered infidelity and attempted to win back the affections of individuals like him. These circumstances highlight the instability in various areas of her life. The psychologist’s breakdown of how individuals with borderline personality traits often deal with such situations sheds light on the challenges Sytch faced in trying to break free from these toxic relationships and patterns of behavior.
The psychologist’s insights into borderline personality disorder shed light on some of the challenges Tammy Sytch faced in her life. Individuals with this disorder often harbor a profound fear of abandonment and rejection, which can manifest in problems related to anger, temperament, and self-destructive behavior. While Sytch was not suicidal or a self-harmer, she engaged in self-destructive behaviors such as using supplements and steroids, possibly driven by a desire to conform to industry standards and not risk losing her job. These impulses and actions can be attributed to a combination of the demands of the wrestling business and the impact of her disorder, which led her to continually seek validation and feel inadequate.
Sytch had experienced a series of abusive relationships, and this situation was consistent with that pattern.
Sytch would alternate between experiencing euphoria, struggling with sleep and engaging in numerous high-energy activities, followed by nearly debilitating bouts of depression. Sytch sought assistance for their mental health concerns, primarily through medications such as Prozac, Xanax, and lithium, among others.
He held the belief that Sytch had incurred some brain damage due to concussions and had also reported experiencing seizures. She had received a diagnosis and medication for her seizures. Furthermore, there was a history of involvement in wrestling and a past of tumultuous relationships. He understood that she had been subjected to head blows during her wrestling career that left her dazed.
The topic of testing Sytch for neuro-psychological issues was brought up, and it was revealed that she scored above average in terms of intelligence. He characterized her as having a “fairly robust IQ.” He started to analyze her responses to various mental tasks.
He also administered psychological tests, which indicated the presence of several mental health conditions, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse disorder (specifically alcohol), and a significant focus on chronic pain. There was also a possibility of delusional thinking, although he did not personally observe it during the assessment.
Furthermore, he conducted PTSD-specific tests, which revealed evidence of intrusive experiences and dissociative experiences, with her PTSD scale scoring higher than normal.
He provided a breakdown of some of the tests that Sytch underwent.
In his overall assessment of Tammy, he concluded that she was a person who had experienced significant damage in various aspects of her life. Specifically, her emotional well-being had been greatly affected by a combination of alcoholism, abusive relationships, and the impact of head injuries she had sustained. He made the following diagnoses: PTSD disorder, bipolar disorder, cognitive disorder, severe alcohol abuse disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
She had not received appropriate treatment for any of her disorders, and, in his professional opinion, she needed specialized care. He emphasized that she had psychiatric disorders that required attention. His recommended treatment approach would begin by addressing her PTSD and bipolar disorders as a priority. He noted that the grief and loss in her life, especially the losses of Candido and her father, were significant triggers for her PTSD. Additionally, he emphasized that she had multiple disorders apart from her substance abuse issues that needed treatment.
The prosecution interviewed him, and it’s important to note that prior to being brought in to evaluate Sytch, he had no prior knowledge of her case. He had met her a year after her arrest and imprisonment.
During the interview, the prosecution suggested that her time spent incarcerated, the knowledge of facing a long sentence, gaining weight, and losing the adulation of her fans could be potential causes for depression. The defense objected to the mention of the deterioration of Sytch’s physical appearance, arguing that it wasn’t relevant, but the judge overruled the objection. The doctor agreed that these factors could indeed contribute to depression.
The prosecution inquired about Sytch’s diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and the cycle that he had described. They pointed out that many of the problematic relationships he mentioned occurred during her early 20s, a period when people often struggle to find their way. The prosecution seemed to suggest that at the age of 50, after a year in jail, she might be using events from her youth as a way to explain her actions. However, the doctor stated that he did not sense that she was being dishonest about her history. He also agreed that excessive alcohol use could indeed damage relationships.
During the prosecution’s questioning, they brought up the idea that Sytch’s chronic pain could be expected for someone who had a career in professional wrestling and who is now in her middle age at 50. They asked whether Sytch was aware of her PTSD diagnosis prior to the incident in question. The doctor responded that he couldn’t determine whether she had significant insight into her diagnoses and issues before he evaluated her. The prosecutors suggested that she had chosen to cope with her problems by turning to alcohol. The doctor agreed that she had indeed used alcohol as a way to cope with her abusive relationships and acknowledged that alcoholism could exacerbate all her existing issues.
They also discussed Sytch’s situation a year into her incarceration, noting that she no longer had a fan base and couldn’t enjoy her previous celebrity status. They mentioned that she had “gained weight” and was experiencing depression. The doctor was asked if he had physically assessed Sytch, but he had not; he referred to the Volusia County Jail records. The prosecutors argued that Sytch’s situation didn’t seem much different from any other woman her age who might be going through menopause, and the doctor agreed with this observation.
The prosecutors also brought up Sytch’s history of alcohol abuse, mentioning that it began at age 23 and became chronic by age 28, resulting in her suffering from pancreatitis.
The defense attorneys highlighted that Sytch had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a medical condition that can cause chronic pain and discomfort. They also noted that she had received a diagnosis of depression as far back as 2014, which could have been a contributing factor to her overall mental health and well-being.
The doctor testified that Sytch had been dealing with these issues for an extended period of time. It was also noted that her relationship with Chris Candido had lasted for 16 years, indicating that most of her abusive relationships occurred during her 30s and 40s. This concluded the doctor’s testimony.
The judge announced a lunch break scheduled for 11:30 AM.
The defense called upon a second psychologist, Dr. John Danzinger, who began his testimony by providing details about his background as a medical professional. Dr. John Danzinger shared that he had been involved in over 15,000 criminal cases dating back to 1988. He also mentioned that he had previously testified for the prosecution, including in death penalty cases within the same county.
Dr. Danzinger started to explain addiction and the behaviors associated with it, emphasizing that addiction is not typically a simple choice. He pointed out that while there is a voluntary element to addiction, a compulsive aspect can often override a person’s ability to control their actions. He noted that genetics can play a role in addiction but clarified that genes are not necessarily destiny; rather, they can contribute to an individual’s heightened risk. Additionally, he highlighted that environmental factors can also influence and modify this risk.
Dr. Danzinger continued to delve into addiction and the behaviors that can result in significant problems for individuals who continue to engage in those behaviors. He reiterated that addiction is typically not a straightforward choice and emphasized the presence of both a voluntary and a compulsive aspect, with the latter often overpowering a person’s control. He also stressed that genes are not an absolute determinant of addiction but can contribute to an increased risk, and that environmental factors can modify this risk.
Based on his interactions with Sytch, Dr. Danzinger concluded that she has an addiction to alcohol. He noted her self-reported tolerance to alcohol, mentioning that she consumed 7-9 drinks a day, as well as experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including morning shakes. He suggested that her seizures might have been related to alcohol withdrawal, though he couldn’t confirm this definitively. He also discussed the cycle of behaviors and circumstances that had led her to her current situation.
Dr. Danzinger further discussed how both genetic factors and environmental influences could have played a role in Sytch’s alcohol abuse. He mentioned that the more relatives one has who abuse alcohol, the higher the likelihood that they may develop similar patterns of abuse.
He also introduced an audit that he uses in clinical and medical practices, which can be a helpful tool in assessing whether someone requires treatment for alcohol-related issues. The scores on this audit range from 0 to 40, with scores over 8 being associated with hazardous alcohol use and scores of 16 or more indicating alcohol use disorder. Sytch’s score on this audit was 31, suggesting a significant issue with alcohol abuse.
Dr. Danzinger emphasized that despite having opportunities for treatment, Sytch had a history of relapses. This pattern led him to question whether something critical was being overlooked in her treatment. As a doctor, he believed that when a patient doesn’t show improvement, it’s essential to consider whether there might be factors or aspects of the treatment plan that have been missed. He expressed his belief that something crucial might have been overlooked in Tammy Sytch’s case.
Dr. Danzinger noted that Sytch had undergone rehab and received treatment with antidepressants, but her condition didn’t seem to be improving. In such cases, he emphasized the importance of asking why the treatment wasn’t working and exploring other potential factors.
He mentioned that in his experience, it’s common for individuals with bipolar disorder to only seek help when they are in a depressive phase. People with bipolar disorder often feel fine during manic episodes and may not recognize the need for treatment during those times. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the possibility of bipolar disorder when assessing individuals who primarily present with depressive symptoms, as the diagnosis and treatment approach can differ significantly from that of unipolar depression.
Dr. Danzinger highlighted the importance of a correct diagnosis and treatment approach in cases like Sytch’s. He mentioned that when someone in her situation is prescribed antidepressants without mood stabilizers, it can sometimes worsen their condition, especially if they have bipolar disorder. In her case, the antidepressants didn’t work, and she continued to experience depression, leading to a cycle of alcohol abuse and contributing to her current situation. Dr. Danzinger expressed his opinion that she was not diagnosed and treated properly.
He also stressed the significance of addressing dual diagnoses when they are present. If someone has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, these conditions can interact and exacerbate each other. Treating only one of these issues while neglecting the other can often lead to a lack of improvement in the individual’s overall well-being. It’s essential to provide comprehensive care that addresses both aspects of a dual diagnosis for a more effective treatment approach.
Dr. Danzinger provided an explanation of the tests and assessments used to determine Sytch’s bipolar disorder. These tests typically involve a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s mood, behavior, and history. They discussed the challenges associated with treatment.
The court is adjourning for lunch, and we will reconvene when they do.
After returning from lunch, Dr. Danzinger continued to provide testimony. During this session, the prosecutors questioned him about what Sytch knew regarding his testing of her for the defense. Dr. Danzinger stated that he had no way of knowing whether his opinions would be beneficial to her, as he had not met or evaluated her in person. The prosecutors attempted to highlight a statement where he had informed her that his opinions might be helpful to Sytch.
Dr. Danzinger was asked about Sytch’s categorization in the “risky use” category concerning her alcohol consumption, and he affirmed that this was indeed a reason for their proceedings. He explained that there are very few disorders that are solely genetic, but the presence of multiple relatives with a particular condition can significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing that condition. In the case of alcoholism, having many alcoholics in one’s family should serve as a warning sign to be cautious about one’s own alcohol usage.
He mentioned that Sytch had expressed willingness to undergo treatment. He indicated that, in his approach, he would recommend the use of mood stabilizers, listing several potential medications. He also mentioned a preference for avoiding medications that could contribute to weight gain and diabetes, taking into account the potential side effects.
When asked about his experience working with the Department of Corrections, Dr. Danzinger confirmed his familiarity with medications available to prisoners, which are often generic versions due to cost considerations.
The prosecutors implied that Sytch could receive treatment for her issues while in prison.
Sytch’s defense reiterated the need for intensive therapy, emphasizing that Dr. Danzinger agreed with Dr. Fabian’s earlier testimony that the solution should not be solely medication-based.
The judge inquired about Dr. Danzinger’s awareness of the duration of Sytch’s mental health treatment, to which he responded that the earliest documentation he had seen dated back to 2014.
Following Dr. Danzinger’s testimony, it was revealed that the defense had intended to call another witness, but they encountered an issue this morning, and as a result, they would not be calling any additional witnesses.
Mark Weinberg testified via Zoom, discussing his 16 years of experience in testing blood and alcohol for FDLE labs. He provided details about the blood sample he was asked to analyze, which belonged to Sytch. He conducted several analyses on the sample and detected the presence of both drugs and alcohol in the blood.
During cross-examination, the defense had him clarify that he was testifying about the mathematical equations related to the numbers provided by the prosecutors, without necessarily confirming the accuracy of those numbers.
Weinberg was asked about the level of active THC (the compound in marijuana) found in the blood and whether it would likely cause impairment. He indicated that the amount detected was relatively low and would typically not be associated with impairment for most individuals.
He was also questioned about how quickly active THC metabolizes in the body. Weinberg explained that it generally takes about 4-8 hours for someone who doesn’t regularly consume marijuana, but for regular users, it can remain in the system longer. He noted that the sample he analyzed would have had a larger amount of THC four hours prior to the blood sample being collected.
The State proceeded to summon Joseph Hapner, a local resident employed by Ubereats, who had been delivering food on the evening of Sytch’s traffic incident. Hapner was traveling westbound on US-1 that night when he encountered a situation. He witnessed a white Mercedes running a red light, which prompted the two vehicles in front of him to come to an abrupt halt. The first vehicle, in the process of making a turn, had to slam on its brakes, and the second car had to come to a complete stop. A near-collision occurred between the first car and the Mercedes, all of this transpiring roughly half a mile away from where the incident ultimately occurred. Subsequently, Hapner observed the actual crash. The Mercedes had been traveling at a higher speed than the other vehicles in traffic. Hapner acted responsibly by stopping, calling the police, and providing a statement that very night.
During cross-examination, Sytch’s defense team highlighted that Hapner lacked expertise in traffic accident reconstruction, preventing him from definitively stating whether the Mercedes was exceeding the speed limit. However, Hapner did describe the Mercedes as traveling at a considerably high rate of speed.
Following this testimony, Hapner was excused from the proceedings, and the State proceeded to call Officer Taylor as its next witness. Officer Taylor, a motor officer with the Ormond Police Department since 2019, provided insights into his extensive training and experience, primarily focused on traffic enforcement.
The State inquired about the individual responsible for executing the warrant to obtain Tammy Sytch’s blood sample. Given the matter of jurisdiction, the Daytona Police Department had to become involved, and they executed the warrant at precisely 12:20 AM. Detective Garcia was the officer who read Sytch her Miranda rights during this process. Sytch, when questioned, claimed she was unaware of her involvement in a crash, and her recollection was limited to the memory of consuming vodka while preparing leftover burritos in her kitchen.
During the investigation, Tammy Sytch informed Detective Garcia that she had intended to visit Wawa for gas and diet iced tea before the incident occurred.
A search warrant was executed to access Sytch’s medical records, revealing that her blood had been drawn approximately an hour after the crash.
Furthermore, a search warrant was carried out on the white Mercedes involved in the incident. Inside the vehicle, an unsealed bottle of Grey Goose vodka was discovered on the passenger’s side floorboard, with liquid still remaining in the bottle.
Officer Taylor provided photographic evidence taken on the night of the incident, showing significant damage to the front end of the Mercedes, which was determined to be Sytch’s car. Additionally, a black KIA, driven by Julian Lasseter, had been struck from behind and sustained extensive damage to the rear. Subsequently, Lasseter collided with the vehicle in front of him, a Yukon. Tragically, Julian Lasseter later succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the crash.
Officer Taylor and other authorities interviewed various witnesses, all of whom provided consistent accounts of the incident, affirming that the Mercedes had collided with Lasseter’s vehicle.
It’s worth noting that this case marked Officer Taylor’s first involvement in a DUI Manslaughter case. The defense attempted to portray him as handling the situation independently and without enlisting the assistance of crime scene technicians. Officer Taylor acknowledged that the intersection in question experienced frequent accidents.
In this DUI Manslaughter case, Officer Taylor’s lack of prior experience in such cases became a focal point for the defense. They sought to create an impression that he had handled the situation independently without requesting assistance from crime scene technicians. Officer Taylor conceded that the intersection in question did witness frequent accidents.
As for the evidence at the scene, all the scattered pieces of the vehicles had been gathered into a pile, making it impossible to definitively determine which car had left a single tire mark at the scene. Furthermore, Officer Taylor was unaware of the presence of any surveillance cameras at that intersection. He clarified that he had checked with the surrounding businesses, but no cameras were found. The defense was attempting to raise questions about whether Taylor had fully performed his duties in the investigation.
During the State’s redirect examination of Officer Taylor, it was revealed that data had been successfully downloaded from the KIA driven by Lasseter, but this had not been achieved with the Mercedes. Additionally, it was determined that the brakes on the KIA had been applied half a second prior to the crash, providing crucial information for the case.
The State informed the Judge that there were two family members who desired to address the Court.
Ken Lasseter, Julian’s younger brother, spoke emotionally during the proceedings. He revealed that he was just 12 years old when Julian, his brother, took on the role of not only a sibling but also a father figure after the passing of their father. Julian continued in this supportive role until his own untimely death. Ken described Julian as a remarkable person, emphasizing that if you were to speak with the residents of the condominium where he lived or the cabin he owned, everyone would attest to what a wonderful individual he was. Julian maintained his physical fitness and cherished his friendships throughout his life, leaving a positive impression on everyone who knew him.
Ken went on to share a heartfelt passage that Julian had written to Ken’s wife, Lynn, expressing deep love, respect, and admiration. Julian praised Lynn for inspiring him to become a better person and thanked her for being part of their family. He expressed the need to visit more and appreciate her and her invaluable feedback. Julian’s message concluded with a profound expression of admiration for Lynn and her accomplishments, acknowledging her as an exceptional individual and expressing gratitude for her love for his brother.
Ken Lasseter remarked that the defendant, Tammy Sytch, could have benefited from a friend like Julian in her life, and it was unfortunate that they had never crossed paths.
He then poignantly stated that his brother had reached the age of 75 before his tragic passing. Ken concluded by noting the ironic twist that if Sytch were to receive the maximum sentence, she would be the same age upon release as Julian was when she caused his death.
Whitney Lasseter-Hill, Julian Lasseter’s daughter, bravely took the stand to deliver a poignant statement. She began by expressing her gratitude to the Judge for granting her the opportunity to share with the world the profound loss her family had endured. She recounted the heart-wrenching moment when a police officer rang her doorbell at 2 AM, requesting her presence in the living room. The officer conveyed the tragic news that her father had been killed in a car crash. Her husband was overcome with grief, doubled over on his knees, leaving them with no one to call and no immediate course of action.
Whitney described the immense difficulty of having to break the devastating news to her children. Her father, Julian, had been their rock, and his absence left an irreplaceable void. She painted a vivid picture of her father as a man of faith who cherished life and served as her greatest supporter, as well as an inspiration to everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. Each morning, he would wake her with the words, “It’s going to be a great day today,” accompanied by the upbeat tunes of James Brown in the background.
Whitney went on to share the countless messages and emails she received from people commending her on being a wonderful person and mother. She emphasized that Julian’s life mission was to help each person become the best version of themselves. He displayed his kindness in everyday actions, such as bringing flowers to nurses and receptionists during doctor’s appointments. He maintained a weekly prayer session for 20 years with a 90-year-old couple because they counted on him, believing that everyone needed those prayers. Julian served on the Board of Halifax Urban Ministries and, with her son, prepared sandwiches for the local homeless population. He had a deep love for Daytona and dedicated 40 years to helping those in need, including those recovering from addiction. His mantra was, “Life is good, and I’m on God’s plan.”
Whitney also shared that her father had grand plans for the next 25 years of his life and was in better health than most of the people present in the courtroom. He had even envisioned attending college with his children, a vision that evoked laughter and smiles from those in the courthouse, reminiscent of the comedic character played by Rodney Dangerfield in “Back to School.”
Whitney continued to paint a vivid picture of her father’s involvement in her family’s life, highlighting his unwavering presence at their children’s games and concerts. He even made it a point to take them to WWE Smackdown events, relishing his role as the family’s anchor. She conveyed the profound difficulty of learning how to navigate life without him, emphasizing that nobody in the family wanted to face that reality. Julian’s absence meant missing out on precious moments like witnessing his grandchildren graduate from college, seeing them drive for the first time, and sharing his boundless love with them.
Turning her attention to Tammy Sytch, Whitney expressed her belief that 25 years, the potential maximum sentence, was not enough punishment for the tremendous loss inflicted on the Lasseter family due to Sytch’s selfish actions. She hoped that the court would indeed impose the maximum penalty because she believed Sytch had not learned from her past transgressions. Whitney underscored the fact that her children had made the same trip with Julian countless times, and it easily could have been them in that tragic situation. She implored the court to prevent another family from enduring the nightmare her own had faced, asserting that Sytch did not deserve a seventh chance.
With Whitney’s heartfelt statement concluded, it was time for the sentencing phase to proceed.
During the proceedings, there were letters presented on behalf of the defense, although they were not officially entered as evidence.
Tammy Sytch was granted an opportunity to make a statement before her sentencing, following a ten-minute break. Sytch, who claimed to have lost her voice due to a cold, began by reflecting on her aspirations when she was just 16 years old. At that time, she had dreams of becoming a doctor to heal people, but she acknowledged that her actions on that fateful day in March 2022 had taken a completely different trajectory. She asserted that her career paths may have changed, but her “morals and ethics” had always remained constant.
Sytch went on to share moments from her career in professional wrestling, highlighting some of the positive contributions she had made. She mentioned bringing joy to people, particularly terminally ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and helping someone who had a seizure during one of her convention appearances.
In conclusion, Sytch asserted that she was more than the worst thing she had done, suggesting that there was more to her character than the tragic incident under consideration.
Tammy Sytch expressed her efforts to focus on the positive aspects of her life, as thinking about the regrettable decision that led to Julian Lasseter’s loss weighed heavily on her conscience. She spoke of feeling deep remorse within her soul. Sytch acknowledged the pain that the Lasseter family was enduring, as she had experienced the pain of losing her own father when she was just 20 years old due to heart disease. She also revealed that her mother had passed away in August while she was incarcerated, and she hadn’t been able to say goodbye, just as the Lasseters had been denied the opportunity to say goodbye to Julian. Sytch empathized with the heartache and devastation that loss brings, expressing genuine sorrow.
With heartfelt sincerity, she acknowledged that her words might not be enough, but she wanted the family to understand that she thought about them every day. She turned toward the family as she said this. Sytch admitted that she thought about the incident continuously throughout the day and pledged to make the necessary changes in her life to ensure that such a tragedy would never happen again. She emphasized that nobody should have to endure the pain that the Lasseter family was experiencing and expressed her fervent wish that she could trade places with Julian, underscoring the depth of her remorse and regret.
Tammy Sytch candidly addressed her past and the events that led to her current situation. She traced her struggles back to the tragic loss of Chris Candido in 2005, someone she deeply cared for. She expressed regret and self-hatred for not being able to save him. Sytch acknowledged that there had been a series of mistakes in her life that she should have learned from, but she struggled to connect her heart to her mind to make the right decisions. While recognizing that there were many things she wished she could have done differently, she also acknowledged the belief that everything happens for a reason. She emphasized her commitment to not dwelling on the past, as the pain she had caused was indescribable and haunted her daily, even in her nightmares. She emphasized her determination to change her path and move forward.
Sytch made it clear that if she could go back and alter the events of that tragic day, she would do so in a heartbeat. She expressed her heartfelt desire to bring Julian Lasseter back and take his place if that were possible. Sytch hoped that she could use her experiences, however painful, and her past bit of fame to become an asset to the community, educating others about the dangers of drinking and driving and the importance of addressing untreated mental illness. She conveyed her deep remorse and requested the opportunity to atone for her actions and, ultimately, to return to society as a positive contributor.
Sytch’s emotional plea was evident as she openly cried while addressing the court.
The defense then presented their arguments, contending that the maximum sentence should be 20 years, not 26. They argued that the rules applied to Sytch’s case had been incorrectly interpreted.
The defense emphasized that allowing Tammy to complete substance and mental abuse treatment would not only benefit her but also be in the best interests of society as a whole. They advocated for a more lenient sentence, emphasizing the potential for rehabilitation and her ability to contribute positively to society if provided with the necessary support and treatment.
The prosecution responded by highlighting that they had not seen concrete evidence of Tammy Sytch’s past treatment or medication, apart from her verbal claims. They argued that Sytch’s multiple issues, including substance abuse and mental health, were interconnected and that she could receive necessary treatment while incarcerated.
The prosecution also emphasized Sytch’s history of repeatedly ignoring court orders and breaking the law across multiple states, which was not included in the judge’s score sheet. They proceeded to detail her criminal history in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, some of which had been widely covered in the media. Based on her history of disregarding authority and court decisions, they argued against probation and asserted that the maximum sentence was warranted—25 years of imprisonment, followed by six months to complete a substance abuse program.
Judge Foxman acknowledged the profound and irreparable loss suffered by Julian Lasseter’s family, emphasizing that no words or actions in the courtroom could ever bring him back or provide solace to his grieving loved ones. The judge also expressed difficulty in comprehending DUI incidents in a world where alternatives like Uber and various taxi services are readily available, highlighting the senselessness of such actions.
Foxman said she credits the defense for what they brought up regarding Sytch’s mental illness and substance abuse and the testimony today, she can’t say the situations are unrelated. The State made the point that mood stabilizers could be given in the prison system. Even if the court had found that downward departure was met, she cannot say that this was a case where it should be utilized. The facts of the care are fairly egrious.
Judge Foxman acknowledged the defense’s efforts in highlighting Tammy Sytch’s mental illness and substance abuse, as well as the testimony presented during the proceedings, which suggested a connection between these factors and the case. However, she reiterated that, even if the court were to find that a downward departure from the standard sentencing guidelines was warranted, she could not justify using it in this particular case. The judge stressed that the facts surrounding the incident were notably egregious, making it difficult to envision any scenario where Julian Lasseter could have avoided his tragic death.
Judge Foxman recognized that Sytch had faced personal tragedies in her life but emphasized that most individuals have experienced adversity in some form, which doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for their actions. She credited Sytch for accepting some level of responsibility for her conduct during the proceedings.
Sytch has been found guilty and sentenced to 10.6625 years in the Department of Corrections for one count of causing death while operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, which is a third-degree felony. She will receive credit for the 566 days she has already served.
Additionally, she has been sentenced to seven years for one count of DUI causing death (DUI Manslaughter), also a third-degree felony. This sentence will be served after she completes her 10.6625-year term for the other charge.
As for the four counts of DUI causing injury to a person and three counts of DUI causing damage to property, these have already been credited with 364 days served in jail.
After serving her prison sentences, Sytch will be required to serve eight years of probation. During this period, she must undergo a substance abuse evaluation, complete 50 hours of community service, pay a $10,000 fine, and have her driver’s license permanently revoked.
During the court proceedings, Sytch did not have any questions for the Judge, and she now has a 30-day window to appeal the verdict.
These sentences and charges are related to the March 2022 death of 75-year-old Julian Lasseter during a traffic incident in Ormond Beach, Florida.
Julian Lasseter, who was the victim in this case, was 75 years old at the time of the incident. Sytch will be 67 years old when she is released from her prison sentences.