Strawberry sentenced to 30 days in jail
Updated: Thursday November 09, 2000 7:27 PM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Darryl Strawberry was jailed for at least another week by a judge who warned him Thursday to resume his treatment for colon cancer "or you are history."
Judge Florence Foster also told the New York Yankees slugger that he would get no more chances to end his repeated drug use, and his next violation would land him in prison.
"If you can't make it on the outside, I'll find a place where you can get treatment on the inside," she warned.
Before a courtroom crowd that included former teammate Dwight Gooden, the judge ordered Strawberry to resume chemotherapy -- treatments he halted last month when he said he had lost the will to live.
"You have got to get the therapy or you are history," Foster said.
Prosecutors wanted to send Strawberry to prison, but Foster refused.
She sentenced him to 30 days. With time served and other credit received under Hillsborough County jail rules, Strawberry could be free in about 10 days, although an exact date was not set at the hearing.
After he is freed, Strawberry will be outfitted with an electronic monitor that will alert his probation officer if he again leaves a drug treatment center.
Strawberry said he felt the impact of his first prolonged time behind bars and was ready to sober up.
"I can't run from myself any more," Strawberry said. "I've got to take responsibility for myself in recovery."
Strawberry told Foster the time he's already spent in jail has taught him a lesson.
Less than a week ago, he told the judge he'd used drugs and stopped his chemotherapy because he wanted to die.
Strawberry is under two years' house arrest for 1999 charges of drug possession and soliciting a prostitute. His Oct. 26 arrest for breaking house arrest was the third time he'd violated his probation.
Assistant State Attorney Robin Fuson said he thought the sentence, which was recommended by Strawberry's probation officer, was too light. Fuson expects Strawberry to be in trouble again.
"I hate to sound cynical, but I am," Fuson said. "Very few people complete these sentences."
Strawberry's defense attorney argued that the 38-year-old couldn't get adequate care for cancer while in prison and needed to be returned to drug therapy to fight his addiction.
Jonathan LaPook, the doctor who first detected Strawberry's cancer and has orchestrated his treatments, said Strawberry's cancer is extremely fierce and the best hope for him is aggressive, new chemotherapy treatments that can only be provided at top cancer centers.
The doctor described Strawberry's drug addiction and cancer as intertwined diseases that need to be treated simultaneously. He has recommended that Strawberry seek treatment in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic and at Hazelden Foundation, a drug treatment center there.
LaPook said Strawberry has no time to further delay his chemotherapy and said the slugger is down to "one good shot" in fighting the disease. He said he didn't think Strawberry understood that when he quit chemotherapy last month.
"Every bone in my body, every intuition tells me with Darryl we are in an emergency situation," LaPook said as he testified via telephone from New York.
LaPook said Strawberry also needed care for possible dehydration that can follow chemotherapy. Strawberry had one kidney removed this year after the cancer spread, and his remaining kidney could be harmed if dehydration isn't promptly treated.
Seated in the audience watching was Gooden, Strawberry's friend and teammate with the New York Mets and Yankees. Gooden, who himself had substance abuse problems, said he came to the hearing to offer support, even though the two haven't talked since spring training.
"I just feel bad," Gooden said. "I just feel terrible because that's someone who is basically like a family member going through a situation like this."
Tim Sweeney, an attorney for the treatment center, HealthCare Connections of Tampa, told Foster that Strawberry will be under 24-hour surveillance.
The center will turn Strawberry in if he leaves again. The electronic monitor produces computer records whenever the wearer strays outside set boundaries, and that becomes evidence to send an offender back to jail.
The judge also ordered Strawberry to undergo random drug tests three times a week and to attend the Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the center.