SKOWHEGAN — A Skowhegan man whose license to drive was revoked permanently after a 1996 drunken-driving crash that killed three people is seeking a pardon from the governor to reinstate his driving privileges.
Bryan Carrier, 35, wants his license so he can go to Canada to visit his daughter, Department of Corrections victim advocate Deborah McAllian wrote in letters announcing the pardon request to victims’ family members.
After three appeals, including one denied by Maine’s highest court in December, Carrier now has a hearing before the Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency, set for July 24.
Relatives of the victims, however, maintain that the seriousness of the crime requires that Carrier never receive a driver’s license again.
Among the guidelines established to determine whether a pardon petition will be heard is the provision that petitioners seeking a pardon for an operating-under-the-influence conviction will not be heard by the board. The guidelines also note that petitioners seeking a pardon for the purpose of entering Canada also will not be heard.
Scott Fish, director of special projects at the Department of Corrections, said Friday that his reading of the guidelines for clemency appears to rule out a pardon for Carrier because of the operating-under-the-influence conviction.
“My interpretation of this is if somebody is asking for a pardon from an OUI, it appears to me that would exclude them,” Fish said Friday. “As I read through the list of exclusions, it said that if you’re seeking a pardon for an OUI, forget about it.”
In exceptional cases, the Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency may waive the guidelines, according to the Department of Corrections web site.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website states that “as a general rule,” Canada does not allow anyone with an operating-under-the-influence conviction in the United State to enter. Potential visitors, however, can apply for a waiver to that rule by applying to the Canadian Border Service Agency.
In the fatal accident, Carrier, then 19, drove a pickup truck at high speed through a stop sign on East Ridge Road in Skowhegan and slammed into a van that was heading east on U.S. Route 2.
Arlyce Jewell, 42, and her 10-year-old son, Alex, died in the crash. Royce Jewell Jr., Arlyce Jewell’s husband, was injured.
Elbert Knowles, 15, a passenger in the pickup, also died in the crash. Another passenger, Nicole Johnson, then 17, was injured seriously.
Carrier pleaded guilty in 1997 in Somerset County Superior Court to three counts of manslaughter and three counts of aggravated operating under the influence.
Carrier’s blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.11. The legal limit is 0.08. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but two years suspended; six years of probation; and 2,000 hours of community service on the manslaughter conviction. On the OUI charge, Carrier was sentenced to two years in prison, to run at the same time as the manslaughter sentence, and ordered to pay $6,000 in fines.
His driver’s license was suspended for life. He was released on March 30, 1999, from the Charleston Correctional Facility.
Carrier appealed for reinstatement of his license to a hearing officer with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but was denied.
A formal appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in December also was denied.
Pamela Hare, of Laveen, Ariz., Elbert Knowles’ aunt, said her sister Susan Knowles, Elbert’s mother, was present for every hearing and objected to Carrier’s license reinstatement until she died in April. Hare said both she and her sister were called to the accident scene that night in November 1996.
Hare said she and other family members, including Tracey Rotondi, of Athens, daughter of Arlyce Jewell and sister of Alex, are continuing the fight to prevent Carrier from getting a driver’s license.
“My sister advocated for the fact that he lost his license for life,” Hare said. “Due to the severity of the accident, my sister didn’t feel that he should ever have his license back.”
Hare and other members of the families affected by the fatal accident said they want Carrier to stop his appeals and stop making them relive the memory of their loss.
“Let’s remember the lives that where seriously involved, a mother, a 10-year-old boy and my cousin, who was 15 years old, and a 17-year-old that lived but is injured for the rest of her life,” Knowles’s cousin Christine Grasso, of Woodburn, Ore., wrote in her victim impact statement opposing reinstatement. “The three victims that were killed will never receive a second chance at life.”
Skowhegan attorney John Alsop, who represented Carrier in his appeal to the law court, declined to comment on the pardon request.
A woman answering the phone at Carrier Chipping in Skowhegan, where Bryan Carrier was employed, said he no longer works for the company.
Efforts to reach Carrier were unsuccessful.
McAllian, at the Department of Corrections, said information on Carrier’s application for a pardon, including who his current lawyer is, is not public until the hearing set for 9 a.m. July 24 in the governor’s office in Augusta.
The Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency was established by Gov. Paul LePage in November 2011. The three-member board has the power to grant reprieves, pardons and commutations and delivers its recommendations on each clemency petition to the governor, who has the final say.
Fish said the current board is composed of lawyers, but that is a not required by the law establishing the board. Service on the board is without compensation.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367