Barre Woman Behind Fatal Wrong-Way Crash Accepts Plea Deal

BURLINGTON, Vt. - A plea agreement was been reached Thursday in the case of a barre woman, accused of intentionally crashing her car on the interstate two years ago. The crash left Brendon Cousino, an EMT worker from Richmond dead.   

Karri Benoir was originally facing a life sentence with a second degree murder charge. Thursday, the 25 year-old accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to a felony charge of gross negligent driving, resulting in death.

In an apparent suicide attempt, police say Benoir intentionally crossed the median on I-89 near Richmond in July of 20-15. Court records show her car slammed into Cousino's, killing him instantly.

Chittenden County's State's Attorney, Sarah George considered the evidence in the case to be complicated for a jury, which prompted the deal.

"It's a huge risk for us so in terms of us going to trial on both charges and the possibility of having her acquitted on both is a major factor,” explained George.

Benoir will receive about two years’ worth of credit for time already served, prosecutors say she'll serve around four more before she is eligible for parole.

"Nothing can bring Brendon back, I mean she could not spend any time in prison or she could  be in prison for life and that doesn't change anything so we are just trying to get through this process,” said Cindy Cousino, Brendon’s mother.

Cindy says he was driving to pick up his daughter's birthday cake when the crash occurred. Cousino's family describes him as being selfless, he was a carpenter and volunteered as an EMT at Richmond Rescue.

Cindy said, "Anyone who has got a story to tell about Brendon, what comes back to me is his kindness and what you saw in Brendon is what you got."

When asked if anything positive could come from this, Cindy says she hopes Benoir can turn her life around, "We can live our lives that reflects Brendon's kindness and the kind of person he was but it's got to go out beyond that to."

A sentencing hearing is slated for October 9th. George say, it'll be up to the Department of Corrections to decide when Benoir will be able to drive again.

George also says Vermont lacks a vehicular manslaughter charge, which she thinks would have been more appropriate in this case. She hopes to take up the issue with state lawmaker next year in Montpelier.

Benoir’s attorney, Rob Sussman was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

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