DUI ruled in deadly crash

BRETT BENNETT

BRETT BENNETT

BY STACI WILSON

The man, who admitted driving at an excessive speed was the cause of a crash that killed two pedestrians in New Milford last year, has now been found guilty on two counts of driving under the influence.

Brett Bennett, 41, Kingsley pleaded guilty on March 1 to two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of Brian Thomas and Edwin Turner III on Feb. 25, 2012. Each count carries a maximum sentence of up to five years.

Bennett admitted that he was driving about 80 mph in a 35 mph speed zone when he struck and killed the two men as they were crossing State Route 11 just after 2 a.m.

But Bennett, who was also charged with driving under the influence, elected to go to trial on that count. At the March 1 plea hearing, the DUI count was separated from the manslaughter case.

The DUI trial was heard by President Judge Kenneth Seamans with the prosecution presenting its side of the case in mid-March.

On Thursday (Apr. 4), it was the defense’s turn. Bennett, as well as a medical doctor, had been expected to take the stand.

But no witnesses took the stand.

In closing remarks, Bennett’s attorney asked the judge to consider the fact that Bennett had not been issued a field sobriety test that demonstrated that he was impaired at the time of the accident.

He also said that it was his belief that a blood alcohol content testing that had been done over two hours after the time of the crash was inadmissible.

The crash occurred just after 2 a.m. and the BAC test was conducted at about 4:36 a.m.

District Attorney Jason Legg said that there were statutory exceptions to the “two-hour rule.”

He said it was a “severe and significant motor vehicle accident.” And described a scene where the two men’s bodies and body parts covered a large area.

He said Bennett was receiving medical treatment from emergency personnel when state police arrived at and then secured the scene.

Legg also pointed out that it was Bennett’s decision to be taken to Community Medical Center in Scranton – about a 45 minute drive from the borough of New Milford – instead of seeking treatment at a closer facility.

Following a 10 minute recess, Judge Seamans issued guilty verdicts to both DUI counts.

Each count is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Bennett is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Thursday, April 18.