Local News

Lawsuit Filed By Stephanie Bennett's Family Questions Safety At Apt Complex

Posted May 24, 2004 4:37 a.m. EDT

— Carmon Bennett hopes a lawsuit will make the world a little bit safer for young women. He is suing the owners and managers of the North Raleigh apartment complex where his daughter, Stephanie, was murdered two years ago.

The lawsuit alleges "criminal actions" occurred on the premises of the complex at a "significant level," when Bennett was killed. Police were called 942 times for violent crimes, sex crimes and break-ins in the 2 1/2 years before the murder.

Raleigh Police Lt. Chris Morgan, who heads the criminal investigation into the murder, said Bennett's neighborhood is not a high-crime area and the crimes reported are not unusual.

People who live in the Lake Lynn area said they chose that area because it is so safe.

"Safety definitely is [important] because I like to jog a lot. Feeling like I can run alone [and] not having to take a dog or friend are important," resident Melody Nelson said.

"I've never heard any complaints whatsoever. I've never experienced anything bad," resident Susan Foster said.

The lawsuit also blames the complex for having "unreasonably large shrubbery," in front of windows, poor "exterior lighting," and windows that "would not effectively lock." Police believe Bennett's killer entered her apartment through a window.

The conclusion of the lawsuit is that the crime against Stephanie "would have been prevented," if the complex took proper safety precautions.

Carmon Bennett is suing for more than $10,000 in damages. Marty McKenna, a spokesperson for the owners of the complex where Bennett lived, said for now, the owners are not talking about the lawsuit.