Without the malt liquor Milton Stanley Bowens Jr. bought for a group of teen-agers, three of them wouldn't have died in a crash last year, a Carroll County judge said yesterday as he sentenced Bowens to six months in jail.
"As a result of the consumption of alcohol by those minors, there was the terrible accident along Liberty Road," Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. said before imposing a three-year prison sentence that he suspended to six months.
"I think it is fair to say that without the use of alcohol, that accident wouldn't have occurred."
On Oct. 15, a Carroll jury convicted Bowens, 25, of Mount Airy of reckless endangerment and furnishing alcohol to minors.
The verdict supported the prosecution's contention that Bowens bought a case of 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor and gave it to two of eight teen-agers who crammed into a stolen Toyota Corolla.
A few hours later on June 6, the car flipped over on Liberty Road near the Carroll-Baltimore County line. Six of the teens were thrown onto the road as the car landed on its roof.
The unlicensed driver, Donny Simms, was the key prosecution witness against Bowens, his cousin.
The wreck claimed the lives of Donny Simms' sister, Donna, and two of his best friends, Eric "Dink" Diggs and Christopher Norris. All three victimes were 15.
Donny Simms, who was 16 at the time of the crash, recently completed a sentence of a year under house arrest and is performing 500 hours of community service. He will not be allowed to drive a car for three years.
Bowens continues to deny that he furnished the alcohol to Simms and the other youths, and yesterday he asked Judge Burns to spare him a jail term.
"I have a lot to take care of," Bowens, who does not have a lawyer, said. "I don't want to leave my son with no parents."
As sheriff's deputies led Bowens away, he began to cry softly. His 4-year-old son -- who was seated in the back of the courtroom with Bowens' parents -- looked toward the front of the courtroom.
"Where's daddy going?" he asked. "Where's daddy going?"