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Local woman pushes for passage of victim's right amendment

Posted: 10:11 PM, Sep 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-23 22:11:45-04

Brittany Beni would have turned 23 on Saturday, September 22nd.  Family members marked gathered at her grave almost two years after she died in a car crash.

"She was very independent, smart, very strong, just so much, so much to live for," said Brittany's mother Linda.

Her life was cut short in December 2016 , when she was killed in a single car crash in Punta Gorda.

The accident also claimed one of Brittany's friends.

Almost a year later , investigators arrested the suspect Michel Brutus, who was driving the car and fled the scene.

Linda was outraged when prosecutors offered Brutus a plea deal that included an 11 year sentence, a deal that was eventually nixed by a judge.

"They are supposed to approach the family first, and they didn't they went directly the defendant and his lawyer, and that's partly why we want to pass Marsy's Law."

Marsy's Law or Amendment 6 would strengthen the constitutional rights of crime victims, by giving them more of a voice in criminal proceedings.

It would also make sure they are informed any time a defendant is released or escapes from custody.  Linda says she's rarely if ever updated on the progress of her case.

"They always say to me every month, Mrs. Beni you don't have to go to court, well if I don't go to court, I don't know what's going on."

Ft. Myers defense attorney Scot Goldberg, a former prosecutor, agrees there should be more communication between police, the state attorney's office and victims.

However, he doesn't agree with Amendment 6 because sometimes prosecutors have to abide by certain sentencing guidelines set forth in state law.

"Trying to have anyone put their opinion on how someone should be prosecuted, or what that sentence should be, isn't fair," Goldberg.

He also says the amendment is confusing because it includes a provision that would raise the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 75.

"It's unfair to each person's view of that issue to have them both coupled into one amendment," said Goldberg.

Linda says she won't rest until there is justice for Brittany.  She plans to spend the next 7 weeks campaigning aggressively for Amendment 6's passage.

"People get arrested for having pot in their cars and they go to jail for 15 years, they wanted to give this kid 11 years for killing two people and fleeing the scene."

Amendment 6 requires 60 percent of the voters to pass it in order to become law.

4-In-Your Corner contacted the state attorney's office for comment on this amendment but has yet to hear back.