NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It was July of 2015 when 37-year-old Ben Gregory lost his life as he cycled north on Elysian Fields Avenue near Royal Street. Curtis Turner, 48, has since admitted he was the hit-and-run driver who killed him.
“He was an example of somebody who was doing it all right. He had lights on at night. He was all the way to the right, and he was struck and killed,” Charlie Thomas, the Gregory family’s attorney, said.
Turner pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge in August, but the family has yet to see justice carried out.
“The defendant ran from the scene. He was caught, and he pleaded guilty, so right now we’re just waiting for what the sentence is going to be,” Thomas said.
Orleans Criminal District Judge Ben Willard can give Turner as many as 40 years in prison, or as little as no prison time at all. The victim’s family, many of them from North Carolina, packed the courtroom back in August when Turner entered his guilty plea.
They gave emotional impact statements in open court, crying as they expressed their love for Gregory.
His longtime girlfriend, Margaret Meinzer, described him as a loving soul who always helped other people.
“Passionate artist who was really friendly, and he made a lot of people happy,” Meinzer said.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit and in shackles, Turner apologized to the family after they gave their statements.
The judge though didn’t sentence Turner in August, and instead pushed the sentencing to Wednesday (Nov. 21).
“He’s a son, a brother and he had a partner here. It’s just tragic for the family. This happened three and a half years ago, and they are looking for closure,” Thomas said.
That closure still did not happen in court Wednesday, as Willard said the pretrial sentencing investigation was not complete.
Thomas said the long process is getting tough for Gregory’s loved ones.
“They’ve had their loss and the system has caught up with the defendant and the process is going," Thomas said. “But at the same time, courts across the country have a different time frame on how quickly they’ll process a case.”
Turner’s sentencing is now set for January 17, 2019.