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Motions hearing set for acquitted boater

POSTED: January 3, 2014 12:26 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — Court documents indicate a motion hearing has been set Monday for Paul J. Bennett of Cumming, who faces four misdemeanor charges in Hall County State Court.

In November, Bennett was acquitted on eight felony homicide by vessel charges and convicted on four misdemeanor counts in Hall County Superior Court.

The charges stemmed from a June 18, 2012, boating accident that killed two Buford boys, Jake Prince, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13.

Bennett was sentenced to two years in jail for boating under the influence, failure to render aid and two counts of reckless boating.

In June 2012, Bennett was charged with homicide in the Prince brothers’ death, and in December 2012, the state charged Bennett with theft and criminal trespass in an alleged May 3, 2012, theft of a sign from Big Creek Tavern.

Prosecutors sought at a September hearing to admit the charge as evidence in Bennett’s homicide by vessel trial.

Generally, evidence of a defendant’s previous charge or conduct is inadmissible.

At the Sept. 25 hearing, prosecutors said evidence showed Bennett had been drinking in the alleged theft incident, thus making the charges relevant to the homicide case.

Bennett’s attorney, Barry Zimmerman, said the state’s account of events was untrue, and the evidence would show that.

The judge ultimately made no ruling on the motion, and the state did not seek to admit the charges again.


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