A day before he was to stand trial on charges of driving drunk at 120 mph on the Baltimore Beltway, a former Annapolis man admitted guilt yesterday in a high-speed drunken-driving crash that occurred a month and a half later and killed his passenger, a Naval Academy midshipman.
"I was unaware how my actions affect other people," Patrick Tormay Britton-Harr, 23, of Pensacola, Fla., told Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck before being sentenced to nine months in jail for negligent manslaughter.
As Britton-Harr apologized, he said he prayed the roles could be reversed so that Charles Benjamin Carr, 20, a systems engineering major in the academy's Class of 2008, would still be alive.
The midshipman was described in court yesterday by his father, Charles W. Carr of Edgewater, as an honor student at St. Mary's School in Annapolis and an expert marksman. He blamed Britton-Harr's family for not controlling the defendant.
Britton-Harr's father, Steve Harr, told the judge that his son did not tell him about the Beltway arrest that occurred 47 days before the fatal accident. He also said his son had failed three times to gain admission to the Naval Academy.
Carr and Britton-Harr, who knew each other from St. Mary's, and two others had left an Edgewater bar shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 24. Carr was the only passenger in Britton-Harr's 997 BMW 328 IS when he missed a curve on Green Isle Road outside Annapolis, said Deputy State's Attorney William C. Roessler. The car hit a tree at 55 mph, nearly twice the 30 mph limit, and Carr died at the scene.
Roessler said the driver's blood-alcohol level was 0.17 percent, about twice the legal limit; Carr's was 0.18 percent.
Seeking a jail term, he said that Britton-Hall learned nothing from his Beltway arrest Oct. 8, for which a trial is scheduled today in Baltimore County.
Defense lawyer Andrew C. White portrayed his client as hurt and in need of help and medical care for his injuries, not jail.
Manck sentenced Britton-Harr to five years in jail, with all but nine months suspended. That is to be followed by five years of supervised probation. He also was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.
"We don't believe confinement is going to take away the hurt or the sadness that is in this room," said Col. Michael Edwards, one of several people to speak on behalf of Britton-Harr and who knows both families.