Commonwealth v. Brolly

Docket Number2720 EDA 2022,J-S13024-23
Decision Date25 May 2023
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA v. SHANE BROLLY Appellant
CourtPennsylvania Superior Court

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION - SEE SUPERIOR COURT I.O.P. 65.37

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered May 19, 2022 In the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at CP-09-CR-0002526-2021

BEFORE: NICHOLS, J., MURRAY, J., and STEVENS, P.J.E. [*]

MEMORANDUM

MURRAY, J.

Shane Brolly (Appellant) appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed after he pled guilty to eight counts of recklessly endangering another person; five counts each of aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence (DUI) aggravated assault by vehicle, accidents involving death or serious bodily injury; and one count each of DUI - general impairment, DUI - highest rate of alcohol, driving at unsafe speed, reckless driving, and driving within single lane.[1] We affirm.

The trial court detailed the underlying facts as follows:

On March 27, 2021, Appellant's] string of reckless conduct forever altered the lives of at least a dozen people. That day Appellant borrowed his uncle's red GMC truck ("GMC") and picked up his friend, Eoin Quinn ("Quinn"), with a plan to spend the afternoon hitting golf balls at the Burlholme Golf Center ("Golf Center"), 401 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. N.T. 1/06/2022, p. 27. On their way to the Golf Center, Appellant and Quinn stopped at Madonna's Beer Distributor in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and purchased two (2) 12-packs of seltzers. Id. at 27. The young men drank their seltzers for a few hours at the Golf Center. Id. at 27-28. Next, Appellant and Quinn [] drove to a pub in Philadelphia, ate a meal, and consumed one Guinness beer each. Id. at 28. After finishing their food, Appellant and Quinn picked up a third friend, Matt Lawson ("Lawson")[,] and drove to Paddy Whacks Bar ("Paddy Whacks"), 9241 Roosevelt Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id. at 28. At this point, Appellant had been drinking alcohol for at least four (4) hours, and Law Enforcement later discovered nineteen (19) empty seltzer cans in the GMC's backseat. Id. at 23-24.
On the way to Paddy Whacks, Appellant veered into the lane next to him and side-swiped a vehicle traveling in the same direction. Id. at 29. The two cars pulled over to the side of the road and Appellant offered to pay the driver $100.00 if he agreed not to report the accident. Id. This individual accepted the payment and drove away. Id. Appellant, Quinn, and Lawson then resumed their journey to Paddy Whacks, pulling up at approximately 7:20 P.M. Id. Appellant had previously agreed to put the GMC's keys behind the bar when they arrived, but he never did. Id. at 28. About two and a half (2.5) hours later, after consuming another Guinness beer, several shots [of liquor], mixed drinks, and one Corona beer, the bartender at Paddy Whacks cut Appellant off and refused to serve him. Id. at 30. This refusal agitated Appellant, and he was asked to leave. Id. at 31.
Throughout the evening, Tiffany Zaborowski ("Zaborowski"), who did not know Appellant prior to this incident, had watched Appellant struggle to walk, spill his drinks, and attempt to start an altercation when he was told to leave [the bar]. Id. As Appellant, Lawson, and Quinn exited the bar, Zaborowski realized that Appellant planned to drive, and she followed them outside. Id. A complete stranger before that night, Zaborowski was so concerned about the danger of Appellant driving in his current state that she begged him not to get behind the wheel. Id. Lawson joined her, asking Appellant to spend the night at his house so he could drive home in the morning. Id. at 32. As their requests were ineffective, Zaborowski then pulled out her cell phone and offered to call Appellant an Uber [rideshare driver,] so [Appellant] could get to his destination safely. Id. at 31. Again, Appellant refused. Id. Even as Appellant climbed into the GMC and started its engine, Zaborowski and Lawson stood outside the front passenger door, pleading with him. Id. at 32. They even tried to block Quinn from entering the GMC, begging him not to get in, but Quinn bolted around them and hopped into the backseat on the driver's side. Id.
As Zaborowski pled with Appellant in the Paddy Whacks parking lot, four (4) young women were concluding their first evening of spring break with celebratory ice cream. Exhibit C-1. Seventeen-year-old J.M., seventeen-year-old A.C., sixteen-year-old T.D., and sixteen-year-old J.A. subsequently piled into J.A.'s Mazda SUV ("Mazda") and started their journey to T.D.'s home for a sleepover. N.T. 01/06/2022, p. 22. The girls were singing in unison to a song on the radio as they headed southbound on Bridgetown Pike, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Id. As they traveled south, Appellant was driving northbound on Bridgetown Pike. Id. at 23-24. Appellant drove up [behind] a Nissan Murano ("Nissan"), occupied by Lyuobov Zagorodny, Kateryna Sulima, and Pavlo Sulima, and decided to try and pass them. Id. at 23. Meanwhile, Emily Lohin ("Emily") and her husband Michael Lohin ("Michael") were sitting in the living room of their home on Bridgetown Pike, winding down after a day at the aquarium with their two children. Id. at 19. As this couple enjoyed their quiet evening, Appellant accelerated and swerved the GMC into the southbound lane of oncoming traffic to pass the Nissan. Id. at 23-24. At a speed of approximately seventy (70) miles per hour, Appellant drove head on into the oncoming Mazda, stopping it dead in its tracks. Id. at 34. Emily and Michael later recalled that the force of the impact was so strong that its vibration shook the walls of their home. Sentencing Exhibit C-2, p. 9. Crash Reconstruction Expert Chief Steve Mawhinney ("Chief Mawhinney") was able to determine from the GMC's event data recorder that Appellant never hit the brake. N.T. 01/06/2022, p. 33. In fact, Appellant did not take his foot off the gas pedal until one (1) second before he made impact, hitting the Mazda with such force that it was violently thrown backward off the roadway, where it rolled before reaching its final resting place. Id. at 34. As the Mazda rolled, Appellant's GMC shot skyward before slamming directly atop the Nissan he had tried to pass.1 Id. at 24.
[FN1 Fortunately, the three passengers in the Nissan were not significantly harmed.]
Immediately after the crash, Emily and Michael heard screams coming from the road. Sentencing Exhibit C-2, p. 9. The couple opened their front door to see three (3) significantly damaged vehicles strewn about. N.T. 01/06/2022, p. 19. Emily called 911 to report the accident as Michael rushed to the scene to assess the damage. Id. Michael saw the Mazda's engine engulfed in flames and he ran inside to retrieve his fire extinguisher. Id. As he and his neighbor, Eli Bielawksy ("Bielawksy") put the fire out, they could hear cries from within the Mazda intensify. Id. at 19, 22. Once they extinguished the flames, Michael removed the Mazda's sunroof and was immediately met with outstretched arms as the girls grasped for him. Id. at 20. Michael took off his shirt and used it as a barrier to protect the girls from broken glass. Id. He then removed J.M. from the rear passenger's seat, her face completely covered in blood. Id. Next, Michael pulled A.C. up and out of the rear driver's seat. Id. At this point, emergency personnel had arrived on the scene, and they helped [Michael] remove T.D. from the front passenger seat. Id. at 21. J.A. was still trapped inside with only eight (8) inches between her legs and the steering wheel, as the force of the impact had pushed the engine compartment into the Mazda's interior. Id. Hanging upside-down, J.A. screamed for help as she fought to stay awake. Id. Officer Timothy Friel ("Officer Friel") of Northampton Township Police Department held J.A.'s hand as emergency personnel worked to free her, feeling her grip loosen each time she lost consciousness. Id. Emergency personnel had to completely remove the Mazda's roof in order to retrieve her, at which point she was flown by helicopter to Temple University Hospital, 3401 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ("TU Hospital") for emergency surgery. Id. at 21-22, 37.
As a throng of workers did what they could for the girls, Michael observed [Appellant and Quinn] laying shirtless on their backs near the scene of the accident. Id. at 22. As he approached, Michael could smell the odor of alcohol emanating from them, even from a distance. Id. Officer Friel also later reported that he detected an odor of alcohol on Appellant's breath. Id. Appellant was transported to St. Mary Medical Center, 1201 Langhorne Newtown Road, Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania ("St. Mary's") for medical treatment, where hospital staff took numerous vials of blood and sent them to a lab for testing. Id. at 25. Law Enforcement obtained Appellant's toxicology report pursuant to a search warrant, which indicated that Appellant had a Blood Alcohol Concentration ("BAC") of .211 g/100 mL. Id. at 26.
The young women in the Mazda [suffered] extensive and life-threatening injuries. Id. J.A. suffered from a closed mandibular jaw fracture and deep lacerations to her face, cheek, and lip. Id. at 37. She had an open right femoral shaft fracture, an open right patella fracture, an upper rib fracture, a left wrist fracture, ligamentous injuries to her left knee, PCL and LCL injuries, and significant bruising to her extremities. Id. at 37-38. Upon [J.A.'s] admission to TU Hospital, her medical team had to employ nasal intubation to help her breathe. Id. at 37. J.A.'s jaw fracture was surgically closed using screws, plates, and arch bars, and she had to have a second surgery in April of 2021 to remove the bars.
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