A Pennsylvania girl’s first date turned tragic last weekend when her father, who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol, failed to properly place the family’s SUV in park, which caused the vehicle to roll backward. 12-year-old Shamera Harris of Pittsburgh was killed after she stepped out of the SUV to pose for a picture following her first date. The girl was reportedly struck and dragged by her father’s vehicle for about 50 feet. The vehicle finally came to a stop when it hit a tree.
Authorities arrived on the scene to find the girl’s 53-year-old father, Richard Benton, smelling of alcohol and slurring his speech. Benton refused to undergo field sobriety testing at the scene of the accident, and was arraigned on DUI charges on Monday.
Police are continuing to investigate what has been described as a horrible accident. Benton allegedly believed that the vehicle was in park before he exited the vehicle to take his daughter’s picture. If the investigation reveals that Benton directly caused his daughter’s death, authorities noted that the man is likely to face additional DUI-related charges.
At this point, Benton is facing only DUI charges. Although a DUI conviction can carry relatively severe penalties, the situation could quickly worsen if Benton is charged with additional crimes. Rather than being faced with just the loss of his driver’s license, fines, and perhaps a short period of incarceration, depending, in large part, on his criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the case, Benton could face a much more significant period of incarceration, as well as other repercussions.
This is a classic case of how unintended consequences can occur from operating a vehicle while intoxicarted, even when the driver is no longer actually operating a vehicle. Even if the man faces no other charges stemming from this incident, he will forever have to live with the loss of his child as a result of his own actions.
Considering the DUI charges that Benton is already facing, and particularly in light of his daughter’s death, he should not hesitate to contact an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney as quickly as possible. DUI cases can move quickly through the court system, and there is a possibility that additional charges may be forthcoming. As a result, Benton should immediately begin building his defense to the DUI charge, as well as to any other charges that might arise.
It is unclear from this story whether law enforcement authorities actually measured Benton’s blood alcohol content or if there is simply circumstantial evidence to support the allegation that Benton was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Challenging the evidence that the prosecution is relying upon in order to pursue criminal charges against an individual is one common way that experienced defense counsel can attack the prosecution’s case against the accused.
Steven E. Kellis has a long history of successfully representing individuals who are charged with DUI and related crimes. Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis to schedule a consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer.