Florida State Attorney: we demand justice for the murder of Benjamin King.

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On the evening of February 7th, 2018, my 22-year-old cousin Benjamin King was heading home from working out at the gym when 17-year-old Zion Counts crashed a stolen vehicle that he was operating without a license (his drivers license had been revoked or suspended at the time of the incident) at an unlawful speed (he was clocked less than 5 minutes previous to the crash by the Maitland Police Department traveling at 80MPH) into my cousin Benjamin’s vehicle. Benjamin’s vehicle went airborne from the impact, was slammed and crushed into a traffic light pole, and then was hit again from behind by the stolen vehicle. Benjamin was killed instantly. Less than four months previous to killing my cousin, Zion Counts had been charged with stealing a different vehicle and was permitted freedom. It has been nearly three months since Benjamin was killed, and Zion Counts has still not been charged. The public is unsafe with Zion Counts being allowed to remain un-incarcerated.

Zion Counts displayed a lack of regard for human life and displayed that he was acting with malice through his actions on February 7th, 2018. Malice is defined as “...when an act which is inherently dangerous to human life is done so recklessly and wantonly as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief.” Zion Counts’ knowledge of driving a stolen car on a revoked license at excessive speeds, and recent criminal history of vehicular theft both highlight this malice.

Benjamin King, or “Gentle Ben,” as our family adoringly referred to him as, is irreplaceable. He was a beloved son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew, and friend. He was the kindest, most generous, selfless, and brilliant soul we all have ever had the chance of meeting. Benjamin was inherently kind, and he spent his days working full-time at the Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park, Florida caring for the elderly. He was gifted - a talented musician, vocalist, and extremely technologically-savvy. He lit up every room with his smile. He was 22 years old with his entire life ahead of him. The world is a darker place without him. There is a huge hole in the world where Benjamin should belong. 

Please join me in calling on Phil Archer, Florida State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit, and John Harris, Presiding Judge over the 18th Judicial Circuit to arrest Zion Counts, charge him as an adult, charge him with second-degree murder and/or vehicular homicide and provide a minimum 157 to 201 month sentence. Help us get #JusticeForBen.

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To both the State Attorney, and the 18th Judicial Circuit (presiding judge).

Whereas 17 year old Zion Counts crashed a stolen vehicle into the vehicle of Benjamin Andrew King, killing Benjamin instantly on the evening of February 7, 2018,
And whereas Zion Counts had previously been charged with stealing a different vehicle less than 4 months earlier and was permitted freedom to continue committing crimes,
And whereas the drivers license had been revoked or suspended from Zion Counts at the time of his crash,
And whereas the bodily and vehicular damage prove that Zion Counts was traveling at a rate of speed in great excess of the 45 MPH limit,
And whereas the Maitland Police clocked the stolen vehicle at 80 MPH less than 5 minutes prior to the crash,
And whereas “second-degree murder” is defined in Florida Statute §782.04(2) as "...the unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual." And whereas “vehicular homicide” is defined in Florida Statute §782.071 as the killing of a person caused by reckless driving of a vehicle,
And whereas "reckless driving" is defined as “...any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” in Florida Statute §316.192,
And whereas the stolen vehicle was likely traveling at such a high rate of speed that it would have been impossible for a safe driver to properly judge the distance or avoid the danger of the oncoming vehicle at night prior to making a legal left turn into the path of the oncoming vehicle,
And whereas the public is unsafe with Zion Counts being allowed to remain unincarcerated,
And whereas the juvenile penal system is less effective at reforming criminal behavior than the Florida Correctional Institutions with their various programs,
And whereas Zion Counts has not been arrested and is currently able to repeat the crimes he has committed, further endangering the public,
We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the 18 Judicial Circuit of Florida to prosecute Zion Counts as an adult of second-degree murder, with a (minimum) 157 to 201 month sentence, and that his immediate arrest be made without bond.

We will be observing the proceedings and outcome of the legal process intended to bring justice and ensure public safety.

Mikaela Mäensivu



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