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Judge denies motion, sets trial date in Lanier deaths

Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett

GAINESVILLE -- A Hall County judge denied Tuesday a motion to dismiss the case against the man accused in last year's boating death of a pair of young Gwinnett brothers.

Paul Bennett, 44, has been charged with eight counts of homicide by vessel, boating under the influence, failing to render aid and reckless operation of a vessel in the June 18, 2012, incident on Lake Lanier. Buford residents Jake, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13, were killed when Bennett reportedly struck their family's pontoon boat.

According to reports from the Times of Gainesville, attorney Barry Zimmerman argued during Tuesday's 3 -hour hearing that the arresting officer from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources had no probable cause. He also noted that, at the time of the incident, the standard for legal intoxication will driving a boat was higher than that for driving a car.

Spurred by the Prince brothers' deaths, that limit has since been lowered to a 0.08 blood-alcohol content.

Arguing for the state, attorney Amber Sowers said that "the testimony by the DNR ranger pertaining to Bennett's demeanor, field sobriety test results, smell of alcohol and bloodshot eyes" was sufficient probable cause, according to the Times.

Bennett reportedly fled the scene after striking the family at about 10:30 p.m. on June 18. He was arrested early the next morning.

Judge Kathleen Gosselin denied Zimmerman's motion to dismiss the case against Bennett. A trial date was also set for Nov. 4, the Times reported.