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Maggie Hendricks

Kirby found guilty of manslaughter in death of Tapout's Mask

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

Jeffrey David Kirby, 53, was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in the death of Charles "Mask" Lewis Jr., one of the founders of the popular MMA brand Tapout, the Los Angeles Times reported. Kirby was found to be under the influence of alcohol when he lost control of his Porsche and slammed it into Lewis' Ferrari on March 11, 2009. He also left the scene of the accident, and was later tracked down by police.

Mask's friends, business partners and fellow members of the Tapout crew used Twitter to keep people aware on the details of the trial. After the verdict, "PunkASS" Tweeted, "Confusing feelings when I think about the guilty verdict! Just more bad [expletive]! Nothing is ganna bring him back!"

Skyskrape thanked everyone who remembered his friend, but also asked people to turn out in support of Mask when Kirby is sentenced. "Sentencing is February 4th @ 9:00am. I'd love for EVERYONE who can make to come our!! Tell EVERYONE you know to come show love for Charles!"

The support for Mask has been palpable in the MMA community. At WEC 40, one of the first MMA events after his death, a large contingent of fans and fighters wore shirts to honor him. His name was printed on the top bar of the WEC cage, and he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

He was so loved in the MMA community because of the support he showed the sport from early on, both in sponsoring fighters and in the television show that he, Skyskrape and PunkASS produced, which shined a spotlight on up-and-coming fighters and gyms.

Kirby will be sentenced on Feb. 4 and can face up to 13 years in prison. Anyone wishing to submit a victim impact statement can find the information here.

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