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09-19-07

A Patriot Ledger series: Summary | PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | UPDATES nav
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Melanie's Story

A first-hand story from the grandfather of 13-year-old victim Melanie Powell
Memories of Melanie: A photo slideshow

STORIES

State ranked among the worst in nation
Quincy judge was among first to take a hard line

GRAPHICS

PART 1
TIMELINE: How Massachusetts drunken driving law has changed
Alcohol's causes and effects
How local and state courts treat repeat drunken drivers
Busiest courts in state for drunken driving arraignments

PART 2
The cost of drunken driving

PART 3
Massachusetts fails compared with other states
Death toll from drunken driving



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Plea of guilty anticipated in OUI case: Rockland cyclist died after being struck by car on street in Abington

By MAUREEN BOYLE
GateHouse News Service

BROCKTON - Brian L. Johns may finally be off the road Thursday.

He is expected to plead guilty to vehicular homicide then.

In the year since Johns was charged with killing a bicyclist while drunk, the 37-year-old Abington man has kept his driver’s license, causing the victim’s mother to fear that someone else could be hurt or killed.

‘‘That has always been my worry,’’ said Ann Feeney, the mother of Robert McCormick of Rockland, who was struck and killed in Abington last year. ‘‘I don’t want this to happen to another family.’’

Johns is set to appear in Brockton Superior Court where, Feeney was told, he is expected to plead guilty to vehicular homicide and drunken driving. He is expected to spend 2½ years behind bars and may lose his license for at least 15 years.

McCormick, 38, was riding his bicycle along Chestnut Street in Abington after dark on July 9, 2006, when he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, police said at the time.

Authorities said the vehicle went off the road and struck McCormick, who was riding on the shoulder.

McCormick was heading to his Rockland apartment from Brockton, where he had visited his girlfriend and their two children.

Johns was arrested a day after the crash and charged with vehicular homicide, leaving a crash scene after causing serious injury and driving to endanger.

He was later indicted on charges of vehicular homicide while driving drunk, leaving the scene of personal injury and death and third-offense drunken driving.

Because he was arrested the day after the crash, a Breathalyzer test was not administered. If a person refuses to take a Breathalyzer test, his or her license is suspended for 180 days for a first offense.

The penalty increases based on the driver’s record of drunken-driving offenses. Someone with three or more drunken-driving convictions faces lifetime license revocation if he or she refuses a Breathalyzer test.

License revocation does not guarantee that a driver will stay off the road; the only guarantee is to lock someone up, Feeney said.

And that is what is expected to happen this week, she said.

‘‘It will make me feel better, knowing he can’t be behind the wheel,’’ she said.

But the sentence - if imposed as expected - isn’t enough, Feeney said.

‘‘I never expected him to go to jail for 20 years and I never wished him dead, but I do wish him punished a little more,’’ she said.

Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, September 19, 2007

 

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