LANCASTER – A preliminary hearing on Wednesday was continued to May 27 for a man accused of killing an elderly woman by crashing into her home while driving drunk.
The hearing for 25-year-old Aaron Daniel Benson, of Lancaster, seeks to establish if there is enough evidence to put the defendant on trial.
Facing a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison if convicted, Benson on Wednesday successfully substituted his public defender for a private defense attorney.
Judge Shannon Knight then granted a request to continue the preliminary hearing to May 27, noting that the defendant’s new attorney would need sufficient time to review discovery and other court materials.
Additionally, Benson consented to waive his right to a speedy hearing to allow for the continuation. Even so, the court upheld his bail at $1 million.
The defendant pleaded not guilty on April 15 to murder and other felony charges for allegedly driving drunk on March 29 and killing a 71-year-old woman sleeping inside her Lancaster home in the 1000 block of West Avenue J-12.
Benson is charged with murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense, and driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense. The criminal complaint alleges he was previously convicted of DUI in October 2011.
The victim, Patricia Ann Holmes, was pronounced dead at the scene, after her body was discovered in her bed beneath Benson’s 2001 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.
According to authorities, Benson allegedly crashed his pickup into several parked cars on both sides of the street as he drove westbound on Avenue J-12 prior to slamming into the elderly woman’s home.
The defendant has been in custody since then, while being held in lieu of $1 million bail. The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster Station.
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