News

Vehicular homicide trial scheduled for Sept. 15

Jarvis Teasdale was killed, two were injured in crash on March 5, 2006 near Cattle Point Estates

Trial is expected to begin Sept. 15 in Superior Court for Robert Benedict, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter in a fatal crash March 5, 2007 near Cattle Point Estates.

Trial was scheduled to start May 5 but it was postponed to accommodate the prosecution’s request for a competency hearing, which was granted. Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord said the hearing was scheduled to determine if Benedict is competent enough to assist in his own defense.

Benedict is represented by Carla Higginson of Friday Harbor. He pleaded innocent at his arraignment on May 25, 2007.

According to Higginson, Benedict has no memory of the crash. She claims he was not the driver.

The people in the 2003 VW Passat when it crashed were Benedict, 24 at the time; Jarvis Teasdale, 22; and Amber Beeston, 20 at the time. The three were friends; Beeston and Teasdale worked together at Islands Convalescent Center.

Emergency personnel arrived to find the car engulfed in flames. Teasdale was thrown from the vehicle and was declared dead at the scene. Beeston and Benedict had gotten out of the car and walked to a nearby house to call for help. They were taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of head injuries.

Beeston was the car’s owner but investigators believe that Benedict was the driver, based on statements he and Beeston made at the scene and on bruising caused by their seatbelts. Investigators believe vehicle speed was a factor.

While a beer can found at the scene was believed to have come from the car, “We don’t believe alcohol or a controlled substance played a role in the cause of the accident,” Sheriff Bill Cumming said in an earlier interview.

In an earlier interview, Higginson said she is “firmly convinced” of Benedict’s innocence.

“This young man has gone through enough with his injuries and the loss of a good friend,” she said, adding, “There is no clear indication he was the driver.”

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