Man charged in fatal crash to get new attorney

Benitez bound over for trial

Published On: May 29 2012 10:35:16 PM CDT   Updated On: May 30 2012 10:11:45 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

A Madison man accused of killing four people in a drunken driving crash in February will soon be looking for another attorney.

Victor Benitez was bound over for trial Tuesday. He's charged with 17 counts in connection with a crash in the city of Fitchburg in February.

Police said Benitez was drunk, high on drugs and fled from the scene after the crash. He was found by firefighters a short time later.

On Wednesday, his attorney, Jason Gonzalez, will remove himself from the case, citing concerns about a possible conflict of interest.

Gonzalez, who is a part-time firefighter for Fitchburg, also responded to the scene about an hour after the crash.

"The incident commander requested that a vehicle be transported to the scene that has lights -- it's called a utility vehicle," Gonzalez told the court. "I did operate that utility vehicle and drove it to the scene."

On the surface, many are seeing it as an obvious conflict of interest, but Gonzalez had said he was not a material witness and had such a small role in the crash response.

Dane County Judge William Foust worried a conflict of interest might come up later on in the trial, as he may have to cross-examine fellow firefighters or Fitchburg police officers and question their credibility.

"All I can say is that I see potential for conflict," Foust said. "You and your conscience, Mr. Gonzalez, need to decide if you have a conflict."

Shortly after the hearing, Gonzalez said he had a change of heart and he would offer a motion asking the court to remove him from the case, which he does not expect will be denied.

He said he realized he "needs to do the right thing" and will leave the case. He said he will help Benitez find a new attorney.

Gonzalez's departure from the case has no affect on what happened in court Tuesday. Benitez was bound over for trial, and he entered a not guilty plea for all 17 counts against him.

As for future court hearings, no dates have yet been set.