FARMINGTON — A Jay woman was sentenced Friday in Franklin County Superior Court to six months in jail for manslaughter in connection with an accident that killed her husband last year.

Justice Michaela Murphy sentenced Barbara Benoit, 51, to four years with all but six months suspended, four years of probation and a $2,100 fine. She has also lost her driver’s license for five years through administrative actions of the secretary of state.

The sentence was part of a plea agreement that dismissed a second charge of aggravated operating under the influence of alcohol in a crash on Route 133 in Jay that killed her husband, Peter Benoit, 56, on July 12, 2009.

Murphy was reluctant to issue the sentence, which she said was more in line with the aggravated operating under the influence charge than manslaughter.

“I need to be convinced that a jail sentence is appropriate in this case,” Murphy said after Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson presented the state’s conditions of sentencing.

Manslaughter sentences throughout the rest of the state involve prison time. Class A crimes such as manslaughter carry a zero- to 30-year sentence; a class B crime, the aggravated OUI, a zero- to 10-year sentence, Murphy said, adding that the defendant couldn’t plead guilty to manslaughter and be sentenced for something else.

Others convicted of manslaughter over the past few years have been given longer sentences, she said. She also questioned the process of the plea agreement, saying there was barely enough evidence to support a manslaughter charge.

Robinson told the court his office had considered the lesser charge of aggravated operating under the influence, but Benoit chose to plead guilty to the manslaughter charge because it she felt it matched her conduct closer than aggravated OUI, Robinson said. She’s remorseful and trying to do the right thing, he said.

Her lawyer, David Austin, had encouraged her to plead to the aggravated OUI, but she told him, “I know, you know, everybody knows I killed my husband,” he told the court.

The state considered the fact that she had no prior criminal record and the nature of the offense, in which a husband and wife were having an argument and under stress while she was driving him home from their Farmington restaurant because he didn’t have a license.

A witness at the restaurant that night said Benoit only had two glasses of white wine, which caused Murphy to question a blood alcohol level of 0.12.

Robinson said the slight woman had only eaten a piece of cake that day.

Benoit was not speeding at the time of the accident, but there might have been a physical aspect to their argument, he said: whether Peter Benoit tried to grab the wheel or his wife, the car rolled over, hitting a guardrail. He died of a skull fracture.

Benoit’s lawyer described her as a woman who was taking responsibility, perhaps too much responsibility, for taking someone’s life.

“She’s kept a lot inside,” Austin said. “She’s not looking for compassion or trying to get out of this.”

Benoit told the justice that she wanted the court case to be over. The past year just got worse as she experienced the first holidays, birthdays, their anniversary and the anniversary of his death, she said.

“No one can punish me as much as I punish myself,” Benoit said. “I loved my husband. We did everything together.”

Reflecting on the fact that Peter Benoit’s children, who were not in court, did not object to the sentence and his sister wrote stating the couple were always in love and it was just an accident that didn’t deserve jail time, Murphy said she would grant the plea agreement.

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