MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Since last March, Coral Springs firefighter Sean Marlin has known this day might come — where he had to turn himself in to a judge on a charge of DUI manslaughter.
On Wednesday, that day arrived.
Also, since last March, Angela Hawkins, whose husband John died in a crash that Marlin is accused of causing, knew that Marlin might be arrested on criminal charges. For her, Wednesday was a day she long awaited.
Broward County prosecutors say Marlin drove drunk while off-duty after attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade and hitting a group of motorcyclists stopped on the Florida Turnpike, killing one of them, John Hawkins. Angela told a judge how this affected her.
“(Marlin) destroyed my life,” she testified. “I’ve been living in misery.”
Angela told a judge the couple and a pair of friends was in South Florida to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and was heading north on the Florida Turnpike when they pulled over briefly. That’s when Marlin is accused of veering off the road, hitting them. The prosecutor said during a bond hearing for Marlin that he showed signs of impairment that night and that the firefighter had a blood alcohol level of .11 — above the legal limit.
“The defendant was drinking throughout the day at the parade,” prosecutor Ross Weiner said.
In a search warrant obtained by CBS 4 News, it shows Marlin is being investigated for DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide. The investigator wrote, “Corporal Julio Torres detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage and bloodshot glassy eyes upon arrival on-scene and during interaction with Suspect Sean Marlin.”
The warrant says Marlin told FHP he attended a St. Patrick’s Day festival with co-workers in Delray Beach. It was not a city-sanctioned event. “(Marlin) also advised he was ‘dozing’ off while driving home from the festival. After dozing off several times he stated that he struck the group of motorcycles stopped on the outside shoulder,” the investigator wrote.
According to the warrant, “(Marlin) stated he had consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages from cups at the festival. The drinks at the festival were served out of tents and suspect stated that a couple were consumed at the beginning and then later.”
But Marlin’s lawyer, Alan Bernstein, said this was a tragic accident. He said the blood taken from Marlin was left in an FHP car for several days and not tested right away.
“That’s what the blood did,” Bernstein told CBS 4 News. “It sat in the car for 3 days. We can’t rely on that blood.”
Marlin’s mother described her son as a good man who became a firefighter to help others.
“He is ready to fight this and prove his innocence,” Bernstein said.
The judge gave Marlin a bond — $156-thousand dollars. If Marlin gets out on bond he’ll have to wear a GPS monitor…not consume drugs or alcohol and undergo random drug testing. He was taken to jail to be booked.
A spokesperson for the Coral Springs Fire Department told CBS 4 News on Wednesday afternoon that up until last Friday Sean Marlin was doing clerical duty for the agency. Once the agency learned this week of the charges against Marlin, Coral Springs Fire Rescue suspended Marlin without pay.
Outside the courtroom, Angela Hawkins, who was injured in the crash that killed her husband, said she relives the accident over and over again.
“I repeat this accident, our life, our last minute together, every day all day long,” Hawkins said. “It’s a movie playing. I can’t cut it off.”
She said she wants Marlin to feel what it’s like to be separated from something he loves, just as she is.
“I want him to feel what I feel — separated from something that you love,” she said. “Give up something that you really love. Your mom? He love her. She love him. But now I want him and her to feel what it’s like to be separated from that love.”
Hawkins said her husband has been her best friend since she was 10 years old She described her husband as a gentle, kind, giving soul who would do anything for anyone. He worked as an IT engineer for Emory University and she is broken by his sudden, tragic death.
“When he killed my husband, he killed me,” she said. “So it’s like waking up the dead when you wake me up. I have nothing to look forward to or from.”