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Drunken Driver Gets 6½-15 Years for Fatal Wreck

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Bryan L. Knowles

 

A Bainbridge man will spend at least 6½ years in prison for killing a Mount Joy man in a drunken-driving crash in January.

Bryan L. Knowles, 38, had a blood alcohol content nearly four times the legal limit when he drove his pickup truck across Route 441 at Vinegar Ferry Road and head-on into an SUV driven by Joseph G. Zito, 56.

The crash happened about 6 p.m. on Jan. 15; Zito was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation revealed that Knowles had taken a Breathalyzer test at home a few minutes before driving and it showed he was over the legal limit, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Susquehanna Regional Police Detective L. Jeffrey Sosnoski wrote in court papers when filing charges that Knowles acknowledged drinking 12 beers before driving that day and also that Knowles took the breath test before driving that day because he was the subject of a court order to be checked for alcohol before seeing his children. That test showed his blood alcohol content to be at .423, more than five times the legal limit for driving, Sosnoski wrote in court papers.

Knowles pleaded guilty Friday, Sept. 27, in Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas to vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

Under a plea agreement accepted by President Judge Dennis Reinaker, Knowles will spend 6½ to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of probation. He must
also pay $2,827 restitution for funeral costs. Zito’s survivors testified the crash has torn their family apart, according to the District Attorney’s Office. They described him as a man who always put family first.

Knowles was represented by attorney Julia Alexa Rogers of the West Chesterbased Ciccarelli Law Offices. In response to a request for comment from the Advocate, the law firm emailed a statement saying, “All loss of life is tragic and Mr. Knowles has been and continues to be extremely sorry and remorseful and he carries the burden of Mr. Zito’s death. Our legal team, led by Mrs. Rogers and Mr. Lee Ciccarelli was instrumental in working with the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office in formulating a resolution that hopefully brought justice for the aggrieved family but also gave consideration to Mr. Knowles acceptance of responsibility, genuine sorrow and efforts to regain sobriety. This case underscores the tragic nature of addiction and the possibility of catastrophic consequence for all when addictions are left unaddressed.”

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