Charges against suspect in fatal Plano DWI crash upgraded to mur - Dallas News |

Charges against suspect in fatal Plano DWI crash upgraded to murder, assault

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Plano police have upgraded a DWI charge to murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the case of a hit-and-run that happened outside a bar two weeks ago.

Police say 22-year-old Benjamin Newman is being held on a bond of $110,000 under the new charges.

He’s accused of killing his friend, 23-year-old Christopher Brigman when he reportedly ran down a group of people outside of the Hangout Bar on April 18.

Police now say they believe Newman inadvertently killed his Brigman while trying to hurt someone else.

Newman has no criminal record to speak of. In addition to being accused of killing Brigman, he’s accused of injuring three others -- employees at the Hangout Bar and Grill who were escorting Brigman out.

“It wasn't a planned scare drive-by; it was full heading right toward them as they were right in the middle of the parking lot,” said Officer David Tilly with the Plano Police Department. “Full intent of actually striking them.”

The night of the incident, police say there was an altercation inside the bar, which is just off of 75 Central, north of Parker Road.

Newman left in his white sedan, but drove back and sped up as he went directly for several people -- likely targeting the security guard, but killing his friend instead, whom he didn't realize was among the group.

Police say Newman took off but was arrested nearby. They say he had to be told later that he'd killed his own friend.

“The actual target is not really a factor in this case; it's the fact that it did cause death to an individual,” said Tilly.

Plano police originally charged Newman with DWI and causing an accident with injury. But they say that through their investigation over the last week, they’re confident in a murder charge.

The loss of Brigman is still very fresh for his family. Brigman’s mom recently posted on Facebook about her son's last voicemail messages to her in Irish and Scottish accents, saying they make her cry when she listens to them.

“It's sad,” said Tilly. “Probably makes it worse and a lot harder on him as well as his family knowing that he took the life of his friend, but sometimes, as I say, when alcohol becomes involved, irrational decisions are made.”

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