A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (Aug. 3) sentenced Sean Bennett to 17 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of illegal narcotics when he caused a collision that killed a woman, injured her husband and injured another motorist in Metairie last year.
Bennett, 27, of Poplarville, Miss., pleaded guilty as charged to vehicular homicide for causing the death of Lyn Garnett, 75, of New Orleans.
He separately pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular negligent injury, and to driving with a suspended driver’s license. Garnett’s 72-year-old husband was injured, as was the 72-year-old driver of another vehicle.
Bennett had been using cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine when he was traveling north on Causeway Boulevard in a 2016 Nissan Altima at 105 mph on the morning of April 16, 2022.
As he approached the vehicles stopped at the red light at West Esplanade Avenue at 10:39 a.m., Bennett drove into Causeway’s dedicated right-turn lane to bypass the congestion.
He proceeded into the eastbound lane of West Esplanade, where his car collided with a 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe driven by a 72-year-old Westwego man.
After that collision, Bennett’s car fishtailed and spun out of control and into the westbound lanes of West Esplanade. His car then collided with the Garnetts’ 2000 Chrysler Voyager.
The event data recorder in Bennett’s vehicle showed his car was moving at 103 mph when it collided with the Garnett’s vehicle. At no time did Bennett apply his brakes as he ran the red light or after the collisions.
The Garnetts’ vehicle struck a traffic signal light post. Bennett’s car struck a tree and then a different traffic signal light post.
Lyn Garnett was rushed to a hospital and underwent emergency surgery. She died from her injuries on June 7, 2022. Her husband also was transported to a hospital for treatment.
The 72-year-old Westwego man was treated on the scene and then traveled to a hospital on his own.
At a hospital, Bennett told Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators that he was hallucinating and thinking that someone was seeking his family to hurt them. So, he was rushing to his family, he asserted. He later pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
In accepting his guilty pleas Thursday, and after hearing victim-impact testimony from numerous witnesses, 24th Judicial District Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant sentenced Bennett to 17 years in prison for the vehicular homicide and six months for each of the three misdemeanor charges. She ran the sentences concurrently.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Whitworth prosecuted the case.