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Jurors acquit Bennett on brothers' boating death in Gainesville

Paul Bennett (click for larger version)
November 19, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Jurors acquitted Paul J. Bennett, 45, of Cumming, on eight counts of homicide by vessel on the boating death of two brothers.

On Nov. 14, Hall County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Gosselin sentenced Bennett to serve two-and-a-half years in jail and one-and-a-half years of probation on four misdemeanor charges of reckless boating for speeding, boating under the influence, failure to render aid and reckless boating for missing a green light.

Brothers Jake Prince, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13, both of Buford were killed in the June 18, 2012, collision.

Bennett's fishing boat struck the front of a pontoon with 13 people on board, four adults and nine children, killing Jake and Griffin.

Gosselin said the jury did find Bennett not guilty of the counts of homicide by vessel, "but I can't ignore what I've heard for the past two weeks, either."

Bennett had his boating privileges in Georgia revoked, and he will have to go through drug and alcohol evaluations.

The Prince family and supporters were upset with the verdict. Supporters left messages of encouragement on the brothers' Facebook memorial page.

Bennett's lawyer, Barry Zimmerman, told the Gainesville Times the sentence on the misdemeanor charges for a first offender was excessive.

"A normal sentence would be 24 hours in jail, $1,000 fine and 40 hours community service," Zimmerman told the Gainesville Times.

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