Next month, Tamara Sytch, better known to wrestling fans as “Sunny,” will be sentenced after she was accused of DUI Manslaughter for an incident that happened in 2022. Sytch pleaded no contest to the charges in August.
Sytch, 50, struck and killed Julian Lasseter, 75, in Ormond Beach.
In August, “Going Ringside” reported she chose to forgo a criminal trial and pleaded no contest to the charges and is now awaiting sentencing. There is also a full episode of Going Ringside with Sytch’s background leading up to this point.
Going Ringside has reached out to numerous veteran criminal defense lawyers in Florida for their perspective on what could happen during the sentencing next month. These lawyers are not affiliated with the case as Sytch is represented by a public defender.
Attorney Gene Nichols, Nichols & Pina Law Firm
“Ms. Sytch is facing at least 127 months in the Florida State Prison system based upon the guidelines drafted by the State of Florida. Thus, unless the Court finds a statutory reason to depart from the guidelines, which is unlikely, she will receive at least twelve years in the Florida State Prison, followed by a mandatory period of probation, as well as a lifetime revocation of her driving privileges. The State of Florida is seeking a maximum sentence for both the DUI manslaughter and the Driving with a Suspended License causing death. The Maximum for the DUI Manslaughter is 15 years and the maximum for the Driving with the Suspended License is typically five years. The State of Florida is seeking to raise the maximum sentence for Driving with a Suspended License to a little over ten years based upon the argument that since the minimum amount of months she faces on the guidelines surpasses the maximum of five years, the Court has the legal authority to raise the number based upon the guidelines. The State of Florida is also seeking to have the two felony charges run consecutively, meaning one after the other.
It is anticipated the Defense will seek to present testimony of an evident history of drug and alcohol abuse and the need for rehabilitation for the Defendant. Its is also anticipated the Defense will seek to establish further mental health conditions suffered by the Defendant with expert testimony of physicians/mental health providers in order to establish further mitigation.
Based upon her past history, and the level of her blood alcohol at the time of the crash I do not anticipate the Court sentencing her below the guidelines and instead, I anticipate the Court sentencing her to, at the very least the statutory maximum of fifteen years Florida State Prison on the DUI manslaughter charge. The Judge will have to evaluate whether to sentence her to further time either by adding time to the Driving with a Suspended license charge or whether to run the charges consecutively. The Court will have to evaluate if either decision is likely subject to appeal and the possibility that those decisions could cause the case to return.”
John Phillips, Phillips & Hunt Law Firm
“By pleading “no contest,” Tamara “Sunny” Sytch is saying she will accept the consequences of her actions, while not fully admitting them for purposes of other liability in a possible civil action or even the court of public opinion. This can be a decision where the defendant is then at the mercy of the prosecutor’s recommendation and court’s determination or done because there was some discussion behind the scene where the prosecutor and defense have reached some compromise about a recommended sentence. I suspect there’s been some compromise here. We will know when the sentencing occurs.
Having worked for celebrities in both civil and criminal courts, I have seen their status led to both lighter than normal and heavier than normal consequences. Sytch’s blood-alcohol level was 0.280 following the crash and someone died. This is a serious allegation and we expect there to be significant evidence which could lead to a conviction. She also has a history of bad similar acts. I don’t believe this is a case where she can or will be let off lightly, but one where there was an offer she couldn’t refuse, with a proposed penalty under the maximum, but which will still carry time in prison.”
Belkis Plata, Plata Schott Law
In a phone conversation with Going Ringside, Plata said about maximum sentences being handed down: “Not always the case but I feel like in a case like this is very probable. I feel like the amount of DUIs she’s had she’s never learned her lesson.”
She added Florida has a scoring system for repeat offenders and that will be taken into consideration in her sentencing.
As far as her defense attorneys, Plata said, “They’re going to come in and raise questions like ‘How has her life been?’ ‘Is she remorseful?’ They’re going to throw in everything to get her sentenced knocked down.”
She also said it’s unclear whether Sytch’s celebrity status will play a role in the judge’s sentence.
“It should not. Judge should not consider oh she’s a celebrity. There’s needs to be a message sent that this is not tolerated in Florida,” she said.
Going Ringside has reached out to Sytch’s defense attorney to request an interview. So far that request has not been answered but is an open request if she decides to speak in the future.