With several uniformed police officers looking on, a New Haven man accused of causing the crash that led to the death of a Middletown police sergeant was acquitted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter charges.
Bryant Browne, however, was convicted of 11 lesser counts, including larceny and attempted assault on a police officer. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced March 12.
“There’s nothing to be happy about,” Browne’s brother Eric Browne said. “A man lost his life. We’re thankful that the jury saw my brother wasn’t responsible for murder. He wasn’t trying to intentionally hurt anybody.”
The verdict came on the seventh day of deliberations in Middletown Superior Court.
Browne, 38, was accused of causing the death of Sgt. George R. Dingwall in a high-speed chase two years ago after a burglary. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read, but Dingwall’s widow, Kimberly A. Dingwall, gasped aloud. She would not comment as she left the courthouse.
The verdict left both sides puzzled.
“This is a jury that said in some instances that Mr. Brown did cause Dingwall’s death and in some instances he didn’t,” defense attorney Norman Pattis said. “The jury acquitted Mr. Brown of felony murder, but charged him with causation of death. The state has one objective — to see Mr. Brown die behind bars.”
Dingwall died on Jan. 28, 2000, when his cruiser went off Route 9 in Essex and crashed into a row of trees. He and other officers had been pursuing Browne following a burglary in Middletown.