Maldonado draws five years' probation in 2007 Prentiss County case

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – A Jumpertown man who pleaded guilty Monday to leaving the scene of an accident where a death occurred will spend five years on probation.
Judge Paul Funderburk imposed the sentence for Benjamin Maldonado Jr. on Tuesday in connection with the July 2007 death of Shane Steen.
Maldonado’s guilty plea will be nonadjudicated, Funderburk said, which means if he successfully completes all the terms of the probation his record will be wiped clean of the felony charge.
Funderburk later told the court that a poll of the jury in Maldonado’s October 2009 trial on a culpable negligence manslaughter charge that resulted in a mistrial revealed 11 votes to acquit Maldonado and one vote to convict.
Jury selection had begun Monday in the retrial when Maldonado pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
Although the grand jury and the district attorney’s office felt charges in Steen’s death were appropriate, Assistant District Attorney Arch Bullard said that all retrials are more complicated than the original trial.
After a discussion with the victim’s family he said everyone agreed to reducing the charges so the matter could be concluded and the family could start moving beyond it.
Authorities were called to County Road 8470 where Steen lived about 2:30 a.m. On July 208, 2007, after Maldonado and Steen were involved in a fight involving a four-wheeler.
As Maldonado was leaving the scene in his Cadillac Escalade SUV, he drove into a field toward family members of Steen’s, and Steen jumped onto the running board of the Escalade where he began hitting Maldonado through the window, according to testimony from the 2009 trial.
At some point Steen fell and was apparently dragged, suffering injuries that caused his death at the scene.
Conditions of Maldonado’s probation include payment of a $1,000 fine, $100 to the state crime victims fund and court costs, and no contact with Steen’s family members.
He also must report monthly to his probation officer, not violate any state or federal laws, not leave the state without permission of the probation officer, submit to random drug testing and unannounced visits to his home and place of employment.

Contact Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com