West Lafayette teen driver responsible for fatal White Co. crash sentenced

Booking photo shows Benjamin Edwards. (Photo Provided/White County Sheriff's Office)

WHITE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The West Lafayette teen who was driving the car that crashed and killed his fellow classmate is sentenced Monday.

Seventeen-year-old Benjamin Edwards was in White County Court Monday where a judge accepted his guilty plea that he filed in August.

Edwards will serve three years probation for criminal recklessness causing death, and a one year for criminal recklessness causing serious bodily injury. Those terms will be be served concurrently and suspended.

Edwards will be placed on formal probation for one year and informal probation for two years. He will also serve 100 hours of community service, have an 11 p.m. curfew until June 1, 2017, and have his driver’s license suspended until age 19 or May 29, 2018.

Edwards can petition to have it be expunged two years from the completion of his probation.

According to court documents, Edwards was speeding faster than 100 miles per hour but lost control when he hit a gravel road. The car crashed into a pole and flipped on a White County road early morning May 31. Christian Burns, 17, was killed and two other classmates were hospitalized.

In court Monday, Edwards cried. He delivered a heartfelt testimony: talking about how from the moment he got out of the car and until the day he dies, he will regret what he did to his friends and their loved ones.

He said he never intended to hurt anyone and he was, “just so sorry.”

Edwards added, “If there is anything I can do to prevent this from happening again, I will.”

WISH-TV’s sister station WLFI asked his attorney Bruce Graham what Edwards meant by that. He said Edwards has talked to White County Prosecutor Bob Guy about talking to kids at schools, warning them about reckless driving and sharing his story.

WLFI asked Graham if Edwards would be interested in sharing his story with us. We are waiting to hear back from him.

Additionally, WLFI also had a couple of questions we hoped would be answered at the sentencing: why Edwards was speeding, and whether social media was involved? WLFI did not get those answers.

His attorney said some civil cases are still being dealt with and didn’t want to answer those questions at this time.

Guy asked the court to accept the guilty plea. He said he knew Alexandra Deryn, one of the victims in the crash. He said this case will stay with him for quite some time. He said he learned a lot about faith, family and forgiveness from the Burns family and all of the families involved.

Christian’s older brother was in the courtroom, but that was the only family member present. He didn’t want to testify.

Guy talked about how Edwards was a straight-A student. He said he wasn’t the type of person who usually sits in the sentencing chair.

“I think this sentence is fair under the circumstances,” said Guy. “I don’t care if people think he should be in prison, he shouldn’t be.”

Guy concluded, “I think this is what Christian would be OK with as well.”

Graham added there was no drugs or alcohol involved. He said his defendant is a straight-A student who aspires to be a doctor some day. He is very remorseful and has accepted full responsibility from the start.

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