Repeat drunken driver released West River man, 22, put on house arrest, gets 5 years probation

September 22, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

John Lawson Pasquella, who twice violated probation after being convicted in 1994 for a drunken driving accident that killed a friend in 1994, was released from the county jail yesterday in a reprieve from a sentence on a more recent drunken driving conviction.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth released Pasquella, who lives in the 800 block of Shady Oaks Road in West River, but ordered him to serve 60 days of house arrest followed by five years of supervised probation.

Pasquella also must appear in court once a month for the next year and four times a year for the rest of his probation. Instead of paying a $1,000 fine, as ordered in the original sentence, Pasquella, 22, will have to perform 100 hours of community service.

The release will let Pasquella work and attend daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings instead of the weekly sessions he attended during his four months at the Ordnance Road Correctional Center, said his lawyer, Gill Cochran of Annapolis.

The revised sentence will also give the court more control over Pasquella than if he had been released with no supervision after completing the full year in jail.

"We're extremely happy," said Cochran. "He's earned reconsideration of sentence. By taking him out and reducing the sentence, the judge still has a hammer over his head."

State police stopped Pasquella for speeding on U.S. 50 near the Bay Bridge on Aug. 15, 1997, and found that he was intoxicated. Between then and his trial in Annapolis District Court in May, Pasquella spent seven months in a substance-abuse treatment program in California, Cochran said.

He was sentenced to a year in jail on May 4, and Silkworth upheld that ruling, though he said he would be willing to reconsider it.

Prosecutor David Putzi fought the early release.

"I was very adamant in my opposition to the defendant's request," Putzi said in an interview after the hearing.

"I characterized him as a risk to the Anne Arundel County community as well as to the rest of Maryland."

Pasquella told the judge that he has changed, but he has said that before, Putzi said. "His actions are speaking much louder," he said.

Pasquella was convicted of homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated in 1995. In a prom-night accident in May 1994, the Lincoln Pasquella was driving left Muddy Creek Road in Harwood, slid along a grass shoulder and slammed into a pole, killing passenger Eric Michael Franklin, 17, of Harwood.

Pasquella was sentenced to six months of house arrest followed by supervised probation and was ordered to speak to young people about the dangers of drinking and driving. He violated the probation twice by using marijuana and served 10 days in jail on the first violation in 1996 and 22 weekends in jail for the second violation in 1997.

He was no longer on probation when police stopped him this year.

Pasquella has participated in alcohol treatment programs sporadically since his first conviction and never in an inpatient setting, Cochran said.

Pub Date: 9/22/98

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