Driver accused of dragging St. Ursula grad Madie Hart under car faces two murder charges

Posted at 1:00 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-10 20:09:57-04

CINCINNATI -- The driver accused of hitting and dragging an 18-year-old woman under her car in March faces two murder charges.

Briana Benson, 20, also faces a felonious assault charge and an aggravated vehicular homicide charge in the death of Madie Hart. If convicted on all charges, she faces life in prison. 

Benson hit Hart with a car near 645 Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati on March 26, police said. Hart was in a coma and died four days later. 

"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. 

Watch the full press conference in the player below.


Cincinnati Police Sgt. Steve Saunders also said detectives believe Hart was killed in an intentional attack.

Hart was dragged about 88 feet under Benson's car, Deters said. 

"It was bad," he said.

WATCH: Street-camera video shows a car turn into 18-year-old Madie Hart, run her down

Deters said Hart's friend and Benson's sister were in an ongoing fight before the incident -- and both Benson and Hart were involved in a physical fight at about 3 a.m. that day. 

"Two groups of girls were fighting and it got out of control," Deters said. 

Benson drove off as the fight cooled down slightly, he said. 

Benson later returned to the scene of the fight and Hart approached her car twice, Deters said. This time, Hart banged on the passenger side door and front of Benson's car. Deters said Benson reversed the car before turning right and running Hart over.

“This (street video) will demonstrate to you how far she veers to the right to hit Madie," Deters said. 

Benson then fled the scene and drove south on Walnut Street with Hart pinned under her car, the prosecutor said. 

"This was an unimaginable way to die," Deters said. 

A city security camera caught video of the incident. Authorities will release two other videos filmed by members of the public at a later time, Deters said.

LISTEN: 911 calls detail aftermath of crash that killed Madie Hart

Benson fled because she was terrified, according to her mother, Aimee Benson.

RELATED: Mom of driver in Madie Hart's Downtown dragging death case says 'There is another side to this story'

“This is a nightmare for everybody involved,” Aimee Benson said. “But there is another side to this story and it has to be told."

She added that her daughter drove straight home after the collision and went to the police together.

Hart is a member of the Hart Pharmacy family on Cincinnati's West Side. She graduated from St. Ursula Academy in 2016 and was in her first year at Ohio State University, according to the school.