Local News

New Lawsuit Filed in 2002 Bennett Slaying

Posted May 7, 2007 3:33 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2007 4:07 p.m. EDT

— The father of a woman murdered in her apartment at a north Raleigh complex in 2002 has filed a new lawsuit against the apartments' owner.

Stephanie Bennett, 23, was raped and killed at the Bridgeport Apartments in May 2002. Drew Planten, the man charged with the crime after a three-year investigation, committed suicide in prison a year ago while awaiting trial.

Her father filed a suit last year alleging that the managers could and should have done things to prevent conditions that let the killing happen, then withdrew the suit during a trial in January.

Cameron Bennet had sued, and the case was being tried when he asked Jan. 22 that the  lawsuit against Equity Residential be dismissed.

Bennett and his attorney, Charles Bentley, gave no reason for the action, which came after three days of testimony, but Bentley said then that they likely would resubmit the case.

Bennett had argued in filing the original suit that Planten's death robbed the Bennett family of a chance to achieve a sense of justice through the criminal courts. Her father said he hoped to obtain that justice through a civil suit against the apartment complex where she lived and was killed.

"I think she'd be proud of the fact that I'm trying to get something good out of something very bad, Carmon Bennett said last  year.

Bennett maintained in the original lawsuit that Bridgeport Apartments failed to protect his daughter from her killer because his daughter's window failed to lock, shrubbery around the building was too high and there was inadequate lighting.

A prowler later identified as Planten had been seen near the apartment prior to her murder, and Bennett's attorneys said the apartment complex was aware of that fact.