Updated November 10, 2022 - 3:12 pm
A judge set bail at $100,000 Thursday for a DUI defendant accused of fleeing the scene of a crash that killed two cyclists near UNLV.
Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman also required that Marco Benitez wear a drug detection patch, refrain from driving and drinking alcohol, and be confined at home with an electronic monitor if release on bail because, she told him, “You are a danger to the community when you are out.”
“Mr Benitez, two people are dead,” Zimmerman emphasized.
The judge, who mentioned that tests on Benitez’s blood after the collisions detected cocaine and marijuana, scheduled the defendant’s preliminary hearing for Nov. 30.
Benitez, 27, is charged with 17 criminal counts, including two felony counts of DUI resulting in death or substantial bodily harm. He has pleaded not guilty.
Other charges against him include felony reckless driving resulting in death or substantial harm, failure to stop at an accident scene, failure to stop at an accident with an attended vehicle, failure to render aid at a vehicle accident, and failure to provide information to the involved parties of an accident.
Clark County Deputy District Attorney Eric Bauman said Benitez could face up to 96 years in prison if convicted of the slew of charges.
In the late afternoon of Nov. 4, emergency dispatch received a call about a severe injury crash involving a number of vehicles and two pedestrians, later identified as bicyclists, on East Flamingo Road at South Maryland Parkway.
Police said Benitez was driving a 2002 Ford pickup truck east on Flamingo when he collided with the rear of a 2011 Kia SUV.
They said he continued driving on Flamingo and crashed into the bicyclists riding in the right shoulder. Both were ejected onto the roadway.
Police said Benitez then drove toward the intersection, crashing into stopped vehicles, resulting in a 10-car pileup and trapping Benitez inside his smashed truck.
Emergency medical staff transported Benitez, who injured his right hand, and Alicia Lomelli, 46, of Las Vegas, who suffered a moderate injury, to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.
Traffic officers later contacted a motorist who was not involved in the crash but was driving behind Benitez’s pickup, and the motorist provided a video from a dash camera.
Police said the video showed Benitez driving recklessly on Flamingo, swerving in and out of a travel lane, colliding with the Kia SUV, the cyclists and finally the vehicles lined up at Maryland Parkway.
According to prosecutors, police also have eyewitnesses stating that they saw Benitez driving away after colliding with the Kia and cyclists.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Shane Zeller, who noted that Benitez’s mother and father were present in the courtroom, requested that his client’s bail be set a $50,000, citing his lack of a criminal history while living in Las Vegas for his entire life.
But Bauman said the bail should be higher because Benitez might try to flee, as he is accused of doing after the crash.