June 29, 2013

Man convicted of OUI asks governor to let him drive again

The clemency bid concerns a 1996 crash that killed three and led to a lifetime driving ban.

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN - A Skowhegan man whose license to drive was revoked permanently after a 1996 drunken-driving crash that killed three people is seeking a pardon from the governor to reinstate his driving privileges.

Bryan Carrier, 35, was 19 when he drove a pickup truck through a stop sign at high speed and struck a van, causing three deaths.

1997 Morning Sentinel file photo

Bryan Carrier, 35, wants his license so he can visit his daughter in Canada, Department of Corrections victim advocate Deborah McAllian wrote in letters announcing the pardon request to victims' family members.

After three appeals, including one denied by Maine's highest court in December, Carrier now has a hearing before the Governor's Board on Executive Clemency, set for July 24.

Relatives of the victims, however, maintain that the seriousness of the crime requires that Carrier never receive a driver's license again.

The guidelines that the clemency panel uses to determine whether a pardon petition will be heard state that an operating-under-the-influence conviction will not be considered. The same guidelines also say that petitioners seeking a pardon for the purpose of entering Canada also will not be heard.

Scott Fish, director of special projects at the Department of Corrections, said Friday that his reading of the guidelines for clemency appears to rule out a pardon for Carrier because of the operating-under-the-influence conviction.

"My interpretation of this is if somebody is asking for a pardon from an OUI, it appears to me that would exclude them," Fish said Friday. "As I read through the list of exclusions, it said that if you're seeking a pardon for an OUI, forget about it."

In exceptional cases, the Governor's Board on Executive Clemency may waive the guidelines, according to the Department of Corrections website.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website states that "as a general rule," Canada does not allow anyone with an operating-under-the-influence conviction in the United States to enter. Potential visitors, however, can apply for a waiver to that rule by applying to the Canadian Border Service Agency.

In the fatal accident, Carrier, then 19, drove a pickup truck at high speed through a stop sign on East Ridge Road in Skowhegan and slammed into a van that was heading east on U.S. Route 2.

Arlyce Jewell, 42, and her 10-year-old son, Alex, died in the crash. Royce Jewell Jr., Arlyce Jewell's husband, was injured.

Elbert Knowles, 15, a passenger in the pickup, also died in the crash. Another passenger, Nicole Johnson, then 17, was injured seriously.

Carrier pleaded guilty in 1997 in Somerset County Superior Court to three counts of manslaughter and three counts of aggravated operating under the influence.

Carrier's blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.11. The legal limit is 0.08. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but two years suspended; six years of probation; and 2,000 hours of community service on the manslaughter conviction.

On the OUI charge, Carrier was sentenced to two years in prison, to run at the same time as the manslaughter sentence, and ordered to pay $6,000 in fines.

His driver's license was suspended for life. He was released on March 30, 1999, from the Charleston Correctional Facility.

Carrier appealed for reinstatement of his license to a hearing officer with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but was denied.

A formal appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in December also was denied.

Pamela Hare of Laveen, Ariz., Elbert Knowles' aunt, said her sister Susan Knowles, Elbert's mother, was present for every hearing and objected to Carrier's license reinstatement until she died in April. Hare said both she and her sister were called to the accident scene that night in November 1996.

Hare said she and other family members, including Tracey Rotondi of Athens, daughter of Arlyce Jewell and sister of Alex, are continuing the fight to prevent Carrier from getting a driver's license.

(Continued on page 2)

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