ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — A man with a history of driving with license suspensions and revocations has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and other counts for a collision last Friday that claimed the life of a 34-year-old Alameda woman, prosecutors said.
Justin Benton, 38, was charged and arraigned on Tuesday for the crash in the 3000 block of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway at about 2 p.m. last Friday that killed 34-year-old Wansiri Panyapong.READ MORE: Business Owners in San Francisco's Hayes Valley Say Crime Driving Them to Closure
Benton, who’s being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $340,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 18 to enter a plea.
Panyapong was on a sidewalk when she was struck and killed, Alameda police Officer Alan Kuboyama wrote in a probable cause statement.
According to Kuboyama, when officers arrested Benton shortly after the fatal collision, he admitted that he was the driver of the stolen vehicle that struck and killed Panyapong.
Officers who assessed Benton found he was under the influence of a stimulant and narcotic pain relievers, and they also found injection marks on his arms consistent with his statement that he injects cocaine, the officer wrote.
Benton was on probation for reckless driving after a prior arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was expected to obey laws and not drive unless licensed and insured.READ MORE: Condemnation of the Unvaxxed Grows as Bay Area Mask Mandates Reappear
Benton admitted to officers that he knew his driving privileges had been taken away, according to Kuboyama.
Kuboyama wrote that a records check found that Benton had four prior suspensions or revocations, including one requested by a child support services department and another for refusing a chemical test.
The other two were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition to vehicular manslaughter, Benton is charged with felony counts of unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and driving with a suspended license.
Alameda County prosecutors say Benton has prior felony convictions in Orange and San Bernardino counties for burglary, receipt of stolen property, grand theft and residential burglary.
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