Benjamin Louis Shaw

PROVO — Evidence was presented in court Friday in an automobile homicide case that the judge called "heartbreaking."

"I don't think there's anyone in this room who doesn't grieve," said 4th District Court Judge Claudia Laycock. "This is heartbreaking for all."

Benjamin Shaw, 23, of Provo, was ordered by Laycock to stand trial on two second-degree felony counts of automobile homicide, one class A misdemeanor of reckless endangerment and class C misdemeanor of driving on a denied license.

Two passengers in a car Shaw was driving died when he crashed into a light pole. Police say he was driving while intoxicated.

His friends Stephan Sean Peery, 20, of Provo and Ashley Ann North, 20, of Pleasant Grove died from injuries sustained at the crash. Another friend, Cody Fairbanks, 22, Provo, was thrown from the car and suffered serious injuries.

Another passenger, 20, and Shaw were not seriously injured.

In court Friday, the room was full of friends and family who sat somberly during the hearing, wiping away tears and sniffling as they listened to police officers describe the early morning scene on July 14.

"Stephan Peery had blood on his face," said Provo police officer Troy Morgan. "They were trying to remove Ashley from the back set and put her on a gurney, then got a pulse, then got her breathing and got her into an ambulance."

Peery was pulled out later and declared dead at the scene, Morgan said. Fairbanks, who was ejected, was lying on the grass in "dire straits," Provo police officer Russell Nye testified.

Testimony was that Shaw came into the intersection at 2230 North and University Parkway, hit a curb, then another curb and slid clockwise, smashing into a light pole, just southeast of Albertsons. He was traveling about 57 mph with no signs of braking, said Greg DuVal, an accident reconstructionist.

"He reported that he thought he'd been driving a max of 35 to 40 mph and that he just didn't think he was that intoxicated," said Provo police officer Hiatt Bean, who interviewed Shaw later at the hospital.

Prosecutors presented a toxicology report that showed Shaw's blood-alcohol content after the accident was .250, nearly three times over the limit.

Laycock clarified there is no legal limit at which someone can drive, but anything over than .08 allows officers to arrest someone without having to show impairment.

Shaw's mother, Susan, attended the hearing and said it's been hard because she feels like her son hasn't had a chance to share his side of the story.

Evidence came out Friday that Shaw was not the original driver, but Fairbanks had started out behind the wheel. However, after Fairbanks hit a stop sign, Shaw said he was in a better position to drive. All of the friends had been drinking, and some had been using drugs that night at a friend's house.

Shaw admitted to officers he had consumed three beers.

"Really, there's two sides to it," Susan Shaw said. "I'm sure he'll have to serve some time, but ... it was an accident. He didn't try to do it."

"Ms. North and Stephan were friends of Ben," said Andy Howell, Shaw's attorney. "And he is extremely sorry for their death. I think what we're really looking at (is) a bunch of friends who were too intoxicated to be driving. This is obviously an extremely sad case. I'm sure the court understands that Ben is very sorry that two of his friends died as a result of this."

Shaw will be in court again on Nov. 7 at 8:30 a.m.

After the accident, Shaw was treated for minor knee and back injuries at a hospital and then taken to the Utah County Jail, where he's been since July.

Police said Shaw was willing to answer questions at the hospital but was mostly worried about the other passengers.

"He was extremely cooperative," Bean said. "I think that he genuinely wanted to help with the situation. He told me that his knee hurt and he ... was upset, emotional, concerned about his friends. He asked me about his friends."

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