Wilkinsburg man faces new charges in fatal drunken driving case

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A Wilkinsburg man accused of drunk driving in an incident that resulted in his 12-year-old daughter’s death waived a preliminary hearing Monday and also faces new charges.

Richard Benton, 54, had two counts of child endangerment added Monday in relation to his daughter Shamera Harris and her friend, whom Mr. Benton picked up in his vehicle on Feb. 23 while he was intoxicated, police said. He also is charged with DUI, a misdemeanor.

“He’s maintaining he’s innocent of any wrongdoing,” his attorney David Cercone said. “It’s a horrible tragedy for the whole family.”

Shamera’s mother, Carla Harris of East Liberty, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that she didn’t know her boyfriend had been drinking when they went to the Waterworks Mall to pick up their daughter and her friend at the movies that day.

Ms. Harris said they took the friend back to a Stanton Heights home, where Mr. Benton asked Shamera to get out of the vehicle so he could take a picture. Mr. Benton fiddled with the gearshift and got out of the vehicle, which “just took off at full speed,” dragging the girl and slamming into a tree, Ms. Harris said.

When police arrived, Mr. Benton smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech, was “unsteady” on his feet and had “glassy and watery eyes,” according to a criminal complaint.

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