CINCINNATI -- The 20-year-old charged with murder in the death of Madie Hart pleaded not guilty to four charges Thursday, including two murder charges.
Benson was given a $1 million bond by a Hamilton County judge Thursday. Benson's attorney argued that she is "not a danger to the community," that "she has strong ties to the community."
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Benson intentionally struck 18-year-old Hart with her car on Walnut Street near the Aronoff Center on March 26. Hart suffered serious injuries after being dragged by the car for 88 feet, investigators said. She died in the hospital after four days in a coma.
"There's no way it wasn't intentional," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said during a news conference Monday. "Secondly, (Benson) lied about the incident to police."
One count of murder, Deters said, was for the "purposeful killing of another human being." Deters said the second count was because Hart died during the commission of felonious assault. Benson is also charged with felonious assault and aggravated vehicular homicide.
Benson, of Delhi, turned herself in to police Monday night around 11 p.m.
If convicted, Benson faces life in prison.
Benson was indicted on drug charges only days before the crash, according to court records. Benson's boyfriend was dealing drugs out of her car, Deters said.
"There are no words to describe this," Benson's mother, Aimee Benson, said.
Aimee Benson said her daughter fled the scene of Hart's death because she was afraid, and they went to the police station together to report it.
“This is a nightmare for everybody involved,” Aimee Benson said. “But there is another side to this story and it has to be told."
Deters claimed there was "no way" Hart's death had not been intentional and accused Benson of lying to the police in the initial report.
The prosecutor said the two girls were "knee-deep in a physical fight" before Madie was struck and hurt. Deters also said alcohol may have been involved in the incident.