Russia native guilty in DUI crash that killed UNLV student


The man accused of causing the death of a popular UNLV student in an April 2009 drunken driving crash was convicted Tuesday.

A Clark County jury deliberated for about 20 minutes before handing down a guilty verdict for Vladimir Lagerev for driving under the influence resulting in death.

Lagerev, 47, was remanded into custody following the jury's verdict. A sentencing hearing before Judge Jessie Walsh was set for May 4. Lagerev faces two to 20 years in prison.

Lagerev was driving on the wrong side of the road and crashed his Acura sedan into a Honda Civic driven by 18-year-old UNLV student Lindsay Bennett on April 15, 2009, at the Las Vegas Beltway near Windmill Lane.

Bennett, a 2008 Coronado High School graduate, was a member of the Rebel Girls dance team and an architectural design student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Lagerev, a native of Russia, was a professional dancer himself, having performed at the Los Angeles Classical Ballet, and once was a guest on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.

After Tuesday's verdict, prosecutor Bruce Nelson said, "I think the jury came to the only logical decision they could."

During the six-day trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Lagerev was driving with a 0.20 blood alcohol limit, more than twice the legal limit.

Lagerev, who testified in his own defense, said the lab results were wrong because he had only four drinks that night.

Lagerev's attorney, Stephen Stein, wouldn't comment after the verdict.

Marca DeCastroverde, coach of the Rebel Girls, said Bennett was an "extremely talented dancer" who had potential to one day be captain of the dance group. When Bennett made the team, she was one of only a handful of freshman selected. DeCastroverde said Lindsay led quietly by example.

But in addition to her abilities, DeCastroverde said, Bennett was a great person who was aware of who she was, even at the young age of 18.

"Lindsay was an extraordinary young woman," DeCastroverde said. "She made everybody smile, she was magnetic and really understood people."

Since Bennett's death, her family and friends have collaborated with the UNLV men's basketball team and its coach, Lon Kruger , to form a memorial program called LB3.

As part of the program, pledges can be made for every 3-point shot sunk by the UNLV men's basketball team.

DeCastroverde said pledges through the program can be donated for several programs meant to raise awareness about the consequences of drinking and driving, as well as to provide a scholarship to UNLV for a Coronado student and an endowment for a future Rebel Girl.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

 

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