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Mom upset with plea deal in daughter's death

Posted at 10:34 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 22:47:42-05

The mother of a 21-year-old girl killed in a crash in Port Charlotte is angry about the plea deal she said the driver accepted.

Investigators said 23-year-old Michel Brutus was driving down U.S.-41 in Port Charllotte in December of 2016 when he crashed into a tree, killing his two passengers: Brittany Beni and Wesley Chery. They said Brutus then ran off. Investigators initially said Chery was the driver. Ten months after the crash, Brutus was arrested after DNA evidence on the airbag linked him to the incident.

Law enforcement says leaving the scene of a crash involving death means a minimum of 30 years behind bars. In cases where there are two deaths, you multiply that by two.

Beni's mom said Brutus agreed to a plea deal, and if the judge signs off on it next week, he would only have to serve 11 years.

Linda Beni visits her daugher's memorial site at Charlotte Memory Gardens every day.

"Sometimes twice a day, depending on how I'm feeling," she said.

She wears a necklace with Brittany's picture around her neck and has her daughter's last letter to her tattooed on her arm.

"She's always with me," Beni said.

This is all she has left of her daughter after Troopers said Brutus fled the scene of the car he crashed in Port Charlotte.

"He was just protecting himself. He didn't care he left his two friends there to die," Beni said. "A lot of people have said to me, 'Oh, he needs the death penalty.' No, he doesn't. That's the easy way out. He needs to suffer behind bars."

Beni said the State Attorney's Office offered Brutus a plea deal before telling her and the Chery family: 11 years behind bars and 4 years of supervised probation.

"Eleven years for killing two people? I said 'that just doesn't make sense?' It's like he's getting away with it," Beni said.

She said Brutus accepted the deal and has a hearing on March 6th where a judge can sign off on the agreement.

Beni said she plans on being at that hearing and reading letters from Brittany's former employers, teachers, family, and friends in hopes the judge will listen.

"The judge needs to know what Michel Brutus did to my family and the Chery family. He needs to know that my daughter had her whole life ahead of her and it was taken away in a minute, and this person left with no remorse," she said.

The State Attorney's Office said they can't discuss the case until it's resolved. The hearing is Tuesday, March 6th at 9 AM at the courthouse in Punta Gorda.