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Judge: Stephanie Bennett's Father Can Sue Apartment Complex

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge has ruled that a Virginia man can proceed with a lawsuit against a Raleigh apartment complex where his daughter was murdered more than four years ago.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens set an Oct. 30 trial date for Carmon Bennett's suit against the owners of Bridgeport Apartments.

Carmon Bennett claimed in the suit that the complex owners were negligent in security procedures and ultimately could have prevented the death of his daughter, Stephanie Renee Bennett.

On May 21, 2002, the 23-year-old's body was found inside a first-floor unit at Bridgeport Apartments on Lake Lynn Drive. She had been gagged, strangled and raped.

Investigators arrested Drew Planten of Raleigh a year ago in connection with the slaying. He killed himself in January in his jail cell at Raleigh's Central Prison.

Lawyers for Equity Residential, the Chicago-based company that owns Bridgeport Apartments, argued that the suit should be dismissed because it didn't fit legal guidelines for who can be held responsible in someone's death.

The Bennett family's attorney contended, however, the crime was foreseeable. A man matching Planten's description had been seen crouching in the bushes outside Stephanie Bennett's window 24 days before she was killed.

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