Man gets 6 months for accident that killed friend


An 18-year-old West River man who pleaded guilty to drunken driving and causing an accident that killed his best friend on prom night has been sentenced to six months of house arrest.

John Lawson Pasquella of the 800 block of Shady Oaks Road pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to one count of homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence.

Yesterday, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced the teen-ager to one year behind bars and suspended all but six months. Pasquella will be allowed to attend community college classes and work, his lawyer said. He will be required to lecture teen-agers on the dangers of drinking and driving and was given five years' probation.

He could have been sentenced to one year in jail and fined $1,000.

Judge Thieme told Pasquella during a hearing yesterday that the sentence might have been tougher had it not been for the victim's family.

The two families are still close despite the accident, said Mareen Duvall, Pasquella's attorney. The parents of the victim, Eric Michael Franklin, 17, of Harwood, want Pasquella to speak to teen-agers about the accident to strengthen the message that drinking and driving do not mix.

"We won't know whether the sentence has achieved its purpose for another six months after we see what happens this spring on the prom night," said Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler. "If we make it though that night without any fatalities, then the kids are listening to the message."

Pasquella's 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII slid off Muddy Creek Road near Lansdale Road in Harwood about 4 a.m. May 8, according to court records. The car skidded 230 feet along a rain-soaked grass shoulder, then slammed into a utility pole. Mr. Franklin was the only passenger.

A motorist picked up Pasquella by the side of the road and took him home, unaware of Mr. Franklin's body inside the car. Once home, Pasquella, apparently dazed, tried closing the cuts on his head with a needle and thread. His mother woke up and drove him to the accident scene, then to the Anne Arundel Medical Center, prosecutors said.

Pasquella was treated for a broken nose, a broken collarbone and cuts around his eyes and ears, police said.

A test administered at the hospital two hours after the accident indicated that his blood alcohol content was 0.08 percent, prosecutors said. The state's standard for intoxication is 0.10 percent.

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