Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in husband's death

FARMINGTON — A Jay woman pleaded guilty Friday in Franklin County Superior Court to a felony manslaughter charge in connection with an accident that killed her husband last year.

Barbara Benoit, 51, waived her rights to a trial and accepted a plea agreement. The deal dismissed a second charge of aggravated operating under the influence of alcohol in the crash on Route 133 in Jay that killed Peter Benoit, 56, on July 12, 2009.

Justice Michaela Murphy postponed sentencing to Aug. 20 on the manslaughter charge, for which Benoit faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for causing the death of her husband.

If the case had gone to trial, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson told the court, state evidence would have shown Benoit admitted to having two glasses of wine before the couple left their Farmington restaurant and headed home to 39 Davis Road, off Route 133, about a half-mile from the accident scene. She also admitted to being the driver.

Blood tests taken from Benoit by emergency personnel that night would show her blood-alcohol level was 0.12; Maine's legal threshold for driving is 0.08.

Benoit was driving a 2008 Subaru Outback when she lost control of the car and hit a guardrail, police said. Her husband's head came in contact with the guardrail and a section of the car. Barbara Benoit drove home and called an ambulance, police said.

A medical examiner would have testified that the cause of her husband's death was a skull fracture suffered in the accident, Robinson told the court.

On that night, police went to the scene of the wreck when someone reported hearing a crash and pinpointed the vicinity. Jay officer Troy Young found a large amount of debris and indications that a car had hit a guardrail, but no vehicle was at the scene. Young also found a purse with cards belonging to Barbara Benoit, Robinson said.

The local dispatch received 911 hangups from the 39 Davis Road residence.

When Young arrived at the home, he found the passenger had died, Robinson said. Barbara Benoit showed signs of shock but was cooperative, submitted to testing and admitted to having the wine, he said.

Benoit's lawyer, David Austin, told the court that Benoit did not have a phone with her at the accident scene on a not heavily traveled highway and drove the short distance to their house where she tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her husband.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Get a life

Cruel by rusty It's people like you that have nothing better to do in life but to make things up. First Barb DOSE NOT DRINK BEER she only drinks wine. If you seen her downing all this wine and beer and watched her get in her car and drive off you should be found guilty of manslaughter to because you could of stop this from happening by calling the police and reporting her. So don't think by running your gums now and telling all your lies is going to make a differnce. There is nothing more the courts can do to her, She lives with this every day of her life and that in itself is more then enough.
Don't worrie Barb your friends are still here for you and always will be. Peter we all love and miss you very much. R.I.P. Peter

 's picture

As usual

People who have NO idea of the facts jump right in with their judgements and criticisms. You are probably the same people who go to church every week and sit in your perfect little glass bubble pew and pat yourselves on the back for the "good deeds" you do in your life. God sees EVERYTHING thats in your heart...and especially when you spew it out on the SJ site.
Accidents happen, people panic, actions cannot be undone. But understanding, love and forgiveness can go a long way toward healing. I hope this family continues to support eachother as it seems they have been doing. RIP Peter, and prayers being said for Barbara. this will take forever to heal, but may you have the love of your family to help and guide you.

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