Judge cites abuse of social media as player in ‘terrible tragedy’
By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A Dublin man faces five to 40 years in prison after being convicted Tuesday of the second-degree murder of his 19-year-old former best friend.
Sentencing for Brent E. Harrell, 21, is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 25 — after completion of a presentence, or background, report. He was convicted of fatally stabbing Chandler S. Dowell of Fairlawn Feb. 23, 2019.
“There’s no doubt there was a homicide here; it’s simply a question of degree now,” Judge H. Lee Harrell said in announcing his verdict. He referred to the case as a “cautionary tale” and “lesson for all” on how digitization drives barriers between people, and how “abuse and misuse” of social media can lead to tragedy.
“But for some of that, we might not be here today,” the judge added.
According to evidence, the fatal stabbing was the culmination of back and forth “trash talk” text and Facebook messaging between the defendant and his former girlfriend, Emily Rosen, and Dowell. Rosen started dating Dowell about a month after breaking up with Brent.
As a result of the messaging, Dowell and Rosen went to Brent’s house, where a fight erupted between Brent and Dowell. The two had only been fighting about two minutes when Brent stabbed Dowell in the neck, prosecution witnesses estimated.
Judge Harrell noted the “casual nature” of the players in the case and their “callousness” to one another served to ignite a fight that left one young man dead and the other facing significant prison time.
“I see parents here who are absolutely tormented. I’m awfully sorry for all of you … it is a terrible tragedy,” the judge said.