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Man convicted in 2003 crash is released from jail

July 31, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Mercy was given a second time Friday to a 21-year-old Williamsport man who was sentenced in February to a year in jail for killing his childhood friend during an August 2003 drunken driving accident.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III ordered that Bryan Lee Markell be released from jail after Markell's attorney, Gregory Bannon, reported that his client has served about five months of his sentence and had completed a jail substance abuse program. Wright ordered Markell to serve five years of unsupervised probation- the maximum probationary period - and added six months to a four-year suspended prison sentence.

Markell, of 10704 Timothy Drive in Williamsport, pleaded guilty Feb. 19 to a charge of homicide while driving under the influence of alcohol in the Aug. 17, 2003, death of Bret Michael Crowell, 20, of Hagerstown.

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On Friday, Wright told Markell that if he goes "through a stop sign or (goes) five miles over the speed limit, you'll be found in violation."

At the February sentencing, Bannon read from a letter written by Crowell's father, Tom Crowell: "I guess you might think my wife and I are crazy, but when it comes to 20-year-old boys, we do believe in second chances."

On Friday, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said that the Crowells did not want to attend the hearing, saying that "it would only bring back memories."

However, Veil said that Tom Crowell told him that "he would rather the boy get on with his life."

Markell's longtime friend, Bret Crowell, was a passenger in his Ford Escort when the car struck a guardrail that separates Interstate 81 and the collector lanes to Interstate 70 at about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2003. Crowell was thrown from the car.

Markell's blood-alcohol level was recorded at .22 after the accident, Veil has said.

"I realize what I've got to stay away from," Markell said Friday. "I don't want to be in this situation again."

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