CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man will serve at least five years in prison before having a chance for parole after being sentenced Wednesday for driving drunk that caused a death and injuries in a July 4, 2016 crash along Corridor G.
Benjamin Harrison pleaded guilty in March to DUI causing death and DUI causing serious bodily injury. Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King sentenced Harrison to a total of 5 to 25 years in prison Wednesday afternoon, deciding the sentences should run consecutive instead of concurrently, Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Maryclaire Akers said.
“I recommended concurrent sentences and everyone was okay with that but the judge, after hearing what everyone had to say, sentenced him to consecutive sentences,” Akers said. “In fact, the judge said if he could have given him more time he would.”
The sentencing hearing included emotional testimony from the mother of victim Mitchell Garrett, Michelle McCormick along with passenger Brooke Boothe and her mother, Deanna Boothe.
Akers said Harrison, Garrett and Boothe had all been drinking when they were riding around together on Independence Day two years ago when for some reason Harrison began driving very fast on Brounland Road.
“Mr. Harrison started speeding, wouldn’t slow down even though she (Brook Boothe) was begging him to slow down and he went through that intersection on (U.S. Route) 119 so fast that he actually went airborne, according to witnesses, the car bounced one time, bounced again, and split in half,” Akers said.
Garrett, 19, Harrison’s best friend since elementary school, died at the scene and Boothe was given a five percent chance to live. She survived but continues to suffer from a traumatic brain injury.
Akers said Harrison told the court what he did was careless and he used bad judgment. Akers said she described it in a different way.
“I think it was intentional. When you’re being asked by people in the car to slow down and you know you’re speeding–he was was taking their lives in his hands which he ultimately did,” Akers said.