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MADISON — Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Madison resident Victor Benitez, 19, was sentenced to 52 years in prison for causing the deaths of Alan Dickson, 25, Jose Cabrera-Hernandez, 18, Phankham E. Chitanavong, 17, and Martin Sanchez-Gutierrez, 17, in a 2012 car crash in Fitchburg. The bifurcated sentence consists of 32 years of initial confinement and 20 years of extended supervision.
In March 2013, a jury found Victor Benitez guilty of four counts of Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle, four counts of Homicide by Use of a Motor Vehicle While Having a Detectable Amount of a Restricted Controlled Substance in the Blood, four counts of Operating a Motor Vehicle Without a Valid Operator’s License, and one count of Obstructing an Officer. Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Hanrahan presided over the trial and sentencing.
During the trial, the State presented evidence that Benitez was behind the wheel of his car, under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, when it crashed, killing all four of its passengers. An investigation into the crash revealed that Benitez was traveling more than 74 miles per hour when he failed to stop at a stop sign. The vehicle became airborne, lost control, and slammed into a utility pole near the intersection of Lacy and Syene Roads in Fitchburg.
All four of the deceased were ejected from the car, while Benitez remained in the car after impact. The first officer on the scene saw Benitez in the driver’s seat area of the car before Benitez crawled out and walked away from the scene. While Benitez maintained that he was not the driver, the collective evidence presented at trial, including DNA testimony from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, as well as testimony from the Dane County Medical Examiner and crash reconstructionists from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Technical Reconstruction Unit, established that he was, in fact, behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
The State was represented by Dane County Assistant District Attorney Emily Thompson and Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold. The case was investigated by Detectives Hector Aguirre and Ken Folkers of the Fitchburg Police Department, with assistance from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol. Victim and witness services were provided by the Dane County District Attorney’s Office.