Originally created 04/27/04

Little charged as a persistent offender with DUI, speeding



ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was charged with a felony for drunken driving and speeding Monday, five years after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter for an accident that killed a woman.

His latest arrest came early Saturday morning, after he was pulled over for speeding by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ladue. A probable cause statement filed by police said Little had bloodshot and watery eyes, smelled of alcohol and failed three sobriety tests.

The statement said Little admitted drinking alcoholic beverages.

Driving while intoxicated normally is a misdemeanor. However, because of Little's 1999 guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter in a drunken-driving crash prosecutors charged him as a persistent offender, making the case a felony.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch declined to discuss results of any breath test of Little, or whether the football player agreed to take one.

Little was released on $7,500 bond.

He was suspended without pay for the first half of the 1999 season after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a 1998 accident that killed Susan Gutweiler of St. Louis. In that case, Little's blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

Along with the charges filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Little could again face another lengthy suspension from the NFL.

"Our only comment will be it will be reviewed under terms of the substance abuse policy," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday, before the charges were filed. "We have to wait until it works its way through the courts and there's a resolution, but players are accountable."

Little went to his first Pro Bowl after last season and has played with the Rams his entire six-year career. He was fifth in the NFL with 12 1-2 sacks in 2003 and has 39 sacks the last three years.