18-year-old Man Sentenced In Drunken Driving Death

Columbia Residentgiven 30 Days Of Treatment, 6 In Jail

June 26, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

An 18-year-old Columbia man whose drunken driving resulted in the death of his girlfriend last November was sentenced yesterday to a 30-day inpatient alcohol treatment program and six days in jail by Circuit Court Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr.

In April, Stephen Severino, of the 11900 block of Little Patuxent Parkway, was convicted of vehicular homicide while intoxicated in the death of 18-year-old Brigid Patricia Wheeler.

Wheeler was a passenger in Severino's car when it crossed the center line on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia on Oct. 27. She died Nov. 11 at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center at University Hospital inBaltimore of multiple injuries from the accident.

Severino, whoseblood alcohol level was .14 at the time of the accident, told policehe had had at least a six-pack of beer during the evening, said assistant state's attorney Jason A. Shapiro. In Maryland a person is considered to be legally drunk with a blood alcohol level of .10.

At the time of the accident, Severino was driving under suspension for failing to pay a traffic ticket, said his lawyer, Richard J. Kinlein.

Severino, who works as a cook at Wendy's, addressed Sybert before sentencing.

"When you wait around for eight months for a trial, you've got a lot of time to think about what you did and what the punishment will be," he said. "I think I'll get the punishment I deserve."

However, Shapiro and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving representative present at the sentencing said they would have preferred a harsher sentence.

"I would have liked to have seen him serve a little moretime in jail," said Shapiro, who had requested that Severino spend 31 days in jail before reporting to an alcohol detention and treatmentfacility in Prince George's County on July 26.

"I want that sheriff to take this defendant out in handcuffs, let him hear the clangingof the doors behind him," Shapiro told Sybert. "There's got to be some sort of punishment."

"What's the message to other kids?" said Chari Stoesser, MADD's victim assistance chairperson, who was present for Severino's sentencing. "You can kill someone you love and spend afew hours in jail?"

Shapiro said the state was prepared to ask that Severino be sentenced to a year in jail, but at the request of thevictim's family did not press for the sentence. Wheeler's mother didnot want Severino to go to jail, he said.

Before imposing his sentence, Sybert told Severino that he intended to accomplish two things.

"I want to let society know about this situation and I want to help you, at your young age, take a step in the right direction."

Sybert sentenced Severino to three years in the Howard County Detention Center, but suspended all but 36 days. Severino will spend 30 days at the Changing Point treatment center in Ellicott City and six days at the Howard County Detention Center, to be served on two weekends in August.

Sybert ordered Severino to undergo three years of supervised probation, participate in Changing Point's outpatient program for a minimum of one year and serve on all the victim-impact panels sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for 1992. He also was orderedto pay $200 in fines.

Under Sybert's sentence, Severino will havean alcohol restriction on his license, meaning that he is prohibitedfrom consuming any amount of alcohol before driving.

The Motor Vehicle Administration will decide through a hearing process when Severino will be allowed to drive again.

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