Bennett to Serve Time
For Death of Monti Boy
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO July 18, 2000 Jurors in the manslaughter case against a Monticello man accused of killing a two-year-old boy in a traffic accident found him guilty of vehicular manslaughter but could not agree on the more serious manslaughter charge.
Jurors also found Benjamin Bennett, 25, guilty of reckless driving and driving while ability was impaired by drugs, both misdemeanors. The panel did not, however, reach a verdict on the most serious charge, second-degree manslaughter, which carried with it a maximum sentence of five years to 15 years in state prison.
Bennetts Legal Aid Defense lawyer, Stephan Schick, and prosecutor K.C. Garn agreed that the partial verdict was sufficient and accepted the judgment without forcing the case into a mistrial. When he is sentenced on August 24, Bennett will face a maximum sentence of 2 and 1/3 to 7 years.
The tragic accident leading to Bennetts conviction occurred on a snowy January day. The little boy, Daniel Haas III, was standing near his father as they watched other children sliding downhill in front of their home on Route 42 going south out of the village.
Bennett, who smoked marijuana sometime earlier in the day, lost control of his vehicle after bumping into the rear of a car being driven by Monticello Police Chief Michael Brennan. The car careened into the mailbox where the boy was standing and crushed him.
Members of both families were on hand when the jury delivered its verdict and expressed the hope that others will take notice of the tragedy and learn from the experience.