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Jury trial continues in teenager accused of killing his friends in car crash

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A jury in Madison will begin its second day of deliberations to determine if a man is guilty of killing four of his friends in a car crash. 19-year-old Victor Benitez is being tried on 17 criminal charges for a one-vehicle mishap in Fitchburg almost 13 months ago. 18-year-old Jose Cabrera-Hernandez and 17-year-old Martin Sanchez-Gutierrez, both of Madison, were killed along with 25-year-old Alan Dickson and 17-year-old Phankham Chitanavong, both of Rockford Illinois. The defense points to a State Patrol reconstruction expert who could not determine the driver to a reasonable degree of certainty. Assistant state attorney general Tara Jenswold said Benitez's blood was found in a liner above the driver's seat. She said it was Benitez who drove through two stop signs and sped up to 74-miles-an-hour before he crashed his vehicle at an intersection. He walked away from the scene, but defense lawyer John Smerlinski said he was wandering off with a cognitive impairment after hurting his head.

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