MOUNT VERNON — A Fredericktown man was sentenced Thursday in Knox County Common Pleas Court to seven years in prison for his role in a traffic accident where he hit an Amish buggy while he was intoxicated — killing a teenager and injuring two others.
Earnest E. Bennett, 60, was given three separate prison sentences for three of the counts in the indictment that included aggravated vehicular homicide, a first-degree felony, and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, both second-degree felonies.
Judge Richard D. Wetzel gave him seven years on the one count and two five-year terms on two others, which will be served concurrently, so his maximum time will be seven years. Bennett was also ordered to pay restitution of $430,224.82, which is the hospital and medical expenses of the victims.
Bennett was originally charged on seven counts; the aggravated vehicular homicide and the two aggravated vehicular assault counts along with two first-degree misdemeanors of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol; the unclassified misdemeanor of failure to reinstate license and a minor misdemeanor of having an open container. Four of the charges were dismissed in exchange for his guilty pleas.
All of the charges stem from a traffic accident on June 22, 2018 where Bennett was operating a 1995 E-Recreation Vehicle (camper) on Ohio 3 in Pike Township and he struck the buggy from behind, ejecting 35-year-old Albert Miller and his two sons, 13-year-old Andy Miller and 5-year-old Leroy Miller. Andy died at the scene whereas Leroy was flown to Children’s Hospital and Albert was transported to Mt. Carmel Hospital, both with debilitating injuries. They both survived.
When Bennett was formally charged in June 2018, Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville said at the time that the count of aggravated vehicular homicide was charged as a first-degree felony because he had recklessly caused a traffic death while he was intoxicated as well as he was driving without a license. The second of the two OVI charges reflects a law that charges for refusal of a blood alcohol test, McConville also said at the time.
Before Bennett was sentenced, a victim advocate spoke on behalf of the Miller family and said that both Albert and Leroy are still recovering from their injuries. Bennett then spoke briefly afterward and apologized for his actions.
Also in common pleas court Thursday, Antonio M. Bolden Jr., 24, Columbus, withdrew his not guilty pleas on three drug charges and pleaded guilty on all three.
Bolden pleaded on two counts of aggravated possession of drugs, both second-degree felonies, and one count of aggravated trafficking of drugs, a felony of the third degree.
The charges stem from a raid on Oct. 1, 2018 where several law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant on a residence in the 500 block of East Gambier Street that resulted in the confiscation of 74 grams of meth, 28 grams of black tar heroin, $1,700 cash and the arrests of both Bolden and Shawn R. Thompson, 25, also of Columbus.
Bolden’s sentencing hearing will be June 27 in Common Pleas Court. Thompson’s case is still pending.