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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty To Involuntary Manslaughter In Traffic Fatality In Northeast Washington-Impaired Driver Struck Pedestrian, Who Was In A Crosswalk-

     WASHINGTON – Joel R. Bromwell, 32, of Annapolis, Md., pled guilty today to charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol stemming from a recent traffic fatality in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Bromwell entered the plea in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  The Honorable Lynn Leibovitz scheduled sentencing for Aug. 30, 2013. Bromwell faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and up to 180 days of incarceration and a $1,000 fine for driving under the influence.

     According to the government’s evidence, on March 21, 2013, at about 8:15 p.m., Bromwell was driving a sport utility vehicle at a high rate of speed, headed east in the 1100 block of Florida Avenue NE.  The victim, Ruby L. Whitfield, 71, and two other individuals were walking across Florida Avenue at the intersection with 11th Street NE, in a marked crosswalk. Ms. Whitfield had just left church after an usher practice for the upcoming Palm Sunday.

     Vehicular traffic at the intersection had stopped to give Ms. Whitfield and the other pedestrians the right of way.  An eyewitness saw the SUV strike Ms. Whitfield without stopping, and she was lodged beneath the vehicle for about 86 feet. 

     An eyewitness followed the SUV as it drove from the scene and approached Bromwell while he was stopped at a red light a block away.  The witness told Bromwell that he had just hit someone and that he should return to the scene. Instead, Bromwell drove off without making his identity known. 

     The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) located the SUV and Bromwell a short time later.  Bromwell failed field sobriety tests.  He admitted that he was the driver of the SUV and that he had been drinking prior to the crash.  Bromwell was arrested and, while at a police station, breath tests indicated that his blood alcohol content was above the legal limit for driving. 

     In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen praised those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department, including members of the Major Crash Unit.  He also expressed appreciation for those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Sandra Lane, Fern Rhedrick and Phil Aronson.  Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who is prosecuting the matter.


Updated February 19, 2015