The TV star is ordered to undergo a 90-day psychiatric evaluation

By Lorenzo BenetKristin Boehm and Johnny Dodd
August 02, 2007 01:00 PM
Nick Ut/AP

Lane Garrison got a real-life prison break Thursday when a judge ruled that the actor should get a psychiatric evaluation to help decide his sentence.

“We don’t have all the information,” Superior Court Judge Eldon Fox said during the hearing Thursday. “I intend to remand Mr. Garrison today to the Department of Corrections for diagnostics.”

Garrison pleaded guilty in May to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and two other alcohol-related charges stemming from a car accident last Dec. 2 that left a 17-year-old Beverly Hills boy dead and a 15-year-old girl injured.

For roughly an hour during the hearing, a number of people – including family members of the victims – addressed the judge, telling him about the impact of Garrison’s actions on their lives. A handful of Garrison’s friends also spoke, saying that the events of the night of Dec. 3 were not indicative of his true character.

Dressed in dark suit and blue shirt, Garrison sat through the proceedings with his head hunched over.

“This is an out-of-body experience for me,” he told the judge when it was his turn to speak. “I’m reminded of that night every day and I think about the bad decision I made. I am so sorry.”

He went on to say that he had tried to contact the parents of the dead teen, but was never able to speak with them. “We can’t bring him back. I just want to apologize to you guys and to the court,” said Garrison. “I am sorry for my behavior that evening. It’s not who I am… I will do everything in my power to make sure your son’s name lives on.”

The TV star’s lawyers’ request for a “diagnostic” – submitting Garrison to 90 days of psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is a suitable candidate for probation – was met with vehement opposition from the D.A., according to

Judge Fox said, “The fact that you may have some notoriety, I don’t really care.”

Garrison was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies and taken to county jail where he’ll be interviewed by state department of corrections psychologists.

When he left the courtroom, accompanied by his lawyers, Richard Hutton and Harland Braun, the actor was not cuffed and he kissed all his family members. He is expected back in court Oct. 31, and could face a maximum penalty of six years and eight months behind bars.

Along with his manslaughter plea, Garrison also admitted that he provided alcohol to minors and that he registered a blood-alcohol level of over 0.15 percent the night of the crash.

The actor, who played Tweener on the FOX jailhouse drama, was driving his Land Rover SUV in Beverly Hills with three teenage passengers on Dec. 2 when the vehicle struck a tree at 11:52 p.m.

One passenger, Vahagn Setian, 17, was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. A 15-year-old girl, also in the car, suffered a fractured pelvis and shattered arm. A second girl, also 15, was not seriously injured.

After the accident police also said that Garrison had cocaine in his system and more than twice the legal blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash.

Garrison has recorded a two-minute public service announcement warning young people about the perils of drinking and driving. The PSA was produced by the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation, which invited Garrison to participate. The California nonprofit, devoted to educating the public on drinking and driving, is making a longer version of the PSA with Garrison that they plan to send out to high schools nationwide.