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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 30, 2013

Maryland Man Sentenced To Four Years In Prison For 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., was sentenced today to four years in prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol stemming from a traffic fatality in Northeast Washington, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

     Bromwell pled guilty to the charges in May 2013 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.  He was sentenced by the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz.  In addition, Bromwell was ordered to pay $200 in court costs, and, upon his release from prison, he will be placed on three years of supervised release.

     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. 

     The 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 sentence, 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, and Victim Witness Program Specialist Marcia Rinker.

     Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who prosecuted the matter.

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Updated February 19, 2015