Man sentenced in pedestrian deaths

BRETT BENNETT

BRETT BENNETT

BY PAT FARNELLI

A Susquehanna County man who admitted his driving at excessive speed killed two pedestrians in New Milford more than a year ago was sentenced Thursday to at least 16 months in state prison.

Brett Bennett, 41, of Kingsley, pleaded guilty March 1 to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, admitting he was driving about 80 mph in a 35 mph zone when he struck and killed Brian Thomas and Edwin Turner around a.m. on Feb. 24, 2012, as they were crossing Rt. 11.

Judge Kenneth Seamans sentenced Bennett to 16-60 months sentence for one count of involuntary manslaughter, followed by five years probation for a second count.

He also received a two days-6 months sentence for driving under the influence during the crash.
Before Bennett was sentenced, several witnesses spoke on his behalf.

His father Joseph Robert Bennett, 65, told the judge he recently had a heart attack, and injured his right shoulder.

“I can’t continue to operate the farm without Brett,” he said, noting that his other sons have moved out of the area. “We love Brett, he is a good man who has great remorse for what has happened, and we ask for leniency.”

Bennett’s mother, Donna McMicken said that her son has suffered over the past year with nightmares, but nothing compared to what the other families have gone through.

“It is a tragedy,” she agreed.

Bennett took the stand himself. He began, “I feel obligated to offer apologies to the families of the individuals who lost their lives. I’ve been restricted from my daughter because of this, and I understand what it feels like to have someone taken away.”

He continued, “I have no right to ask for leniency, I apologize to my family, and I apologize to the state of Pennsylvania.”

District attorney Jason Legg also noted that Turner’s family was in the courtroom “and they want me to give this photo of him to the judge.”

He read a note from Turner’s family: “This could have been avoided. We have lost a beloved family member. We are not vindictive. But we have to live our lives without Edward, a good-natured son and brother. Many lives have been changed. We hope he will be rehabilitated before he is released, so no one will have to go through what we have.”

Legg said he was struck by the forgiveness and compassion the Turner family had shown.
But, he noted, “There is a reason for laws that are in place, for speed limits, for laws against drinking and driving. Two people died.”

OTHER SENTENCES

Others sentenced Thursday:

Zachery Michael Brown, 19, of Herrick Center, was sentenced to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property in Forest City on June 24, 2012; to two years probation and a $100 fine for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on July 24, 2012; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property on July 2, 2012; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property i on May 23, 2012; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property on July 2, 2012; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $125 fine for receiving stolen property on July 10, 2012; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property on May 7, 2011; to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property on May 3, 2011; and to 6-24 months in county jail and a $150 fine for receiving stolen property on April 8, 2011; with all sentences to be served concurrent to the first.

Gerry Allen Peltz, 42, of Susquehanna, to 3-24 months in county jail and a $200 fine for theft by unlawful taking in Great Bend Twp. on July 6, 2012.

Jeffrey J. Kelly, 43, of Carbondale, to 90 days-12 months in county jail and a $1,500 fine for driving under the influence in Clifford Twp. on October 2, 2011.

Robert T Gulley, 22, of Susquehanna, to 24 months probation and a $150 fine for simple assault in Susquehanna Borough on March 31, 2012.