Suspended driver charged with striking, killing Trenton crossing guard appears in court

The suspended driver accused of striking and killing a Trenton crossing guard last year in a high-profile case of vehicular homicide appeared in court Monday for a post-indictment arraignment.

The legal proceeding lasted less than two minutes as defense attorney Kristy L. Bruce from the Hamilton-based Rubinstein Law Firm represented Duane Bennett at his arraignment.

“We waive the formal reading of the arraignment,” Bruce said, utilizing a procedural step that avoided the drama of Bennett’s charges being recited before the court.

Duane Bennett

Duane Bennett

A grand jury last month indicted Bennett, 43, of Upper Freehold, on one count of second-degree death by auto and one count of third-degree unlicensed driver causing death to another in connection with the death of Antonio Wiley, 56, on April 18, 2016, at the Route 129 and Lalor Street intersection.

Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Brown asked whether the state has offered any initial plea deals to Bennett, who could serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the death by auto charge.

Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor James Scott said the state had not yet presented Bennett with a plea bargain, adding, “I found out that this was assigned to me on Friday, so I have not had an opportunity to meet with the victim’s family, but I will extend it for the next status conference.”

The judge scheduled a status conference for May 15.

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