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Pa. man sentenced in snowstorm fatality

April 08, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A Chambersburg man involved in a fatal accident during a snowstorm last year was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court, not for the accident itself, but for what he failed to do afterward, according to Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers.

John Leo Marcoux, 34, of 1185 Tallow Hill Road, pleaded no contest on Feb. 23 to accidents involving death or serious bodily injury, a third-degree felony, according to court records.

He was sentenced by Judge Carol Van Horn to serve three to 23 months in the county prison, plus three more years on probation, according to court records. After his release from jail, he will spend five months on an electronic monitor and four more months under house arrest, Meyers said.

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"There clearly was no fault on Mr. Marcoux's part for the accident," Meyers said after the sentencing. "Technically, the law was violated because he did not stop to render aid or give information," she said.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, Marcoux was driving on Social Island Road in Guilford Township shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2003, when his vehicle struck and killed Marvin Samuel Shlien, 59, of 30 Disert Ave., Greencastle, Pa. Shlien was riding a bicycle along the road at night during a snowstorm, Meyers said.

Marcoux, who had his 2-year-old son in the vehicle with him, did not stop, but went to the home of a friend and called 911 to report the accident, Meyers said.

According to the autopsy report, Shlien probably died instantly, but Marcoux did not know that at the time, Meyers said. Marcoux could have stopped to summon help at other places along the route to the friend's house, she said.

"He went to the first house where he knew someone and called 911 and they told him to stay there," Marcoux's attorney, Greg Abeln, said. Marcoux essentially panicked after the collision and left the scene, he said.

The judge regarded the original plea agreement as "too stiff," according to Abeln, and lowered the jail time from four to three months. Abeln said Van Horn also questioned Marcoux extensively about whether he wanted to withdraw his plea and go to trial.

"I told him I'd be happy to take the case to trial ... but he decided to take the judge's offer," Abeln said.

Meyers said Marcoux pleaded to the subsection of the law for serious bodily injury, rather than death. Otherwise, the law carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison.

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