Driver guilty of Christmas DUI manslaughter sues victim
David Belniak had drugs in his system and never braked when he slammed into the back of a family’s car stopped at a red light on Christmas Day 2007. Three people died.
In August, Belniak pleaded guilty to three counts of DUI manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He never said a word in court, not even when the victims’ children begged him for an apology.
But he is voicing his opinion now.
He’s saying he’s not responsible for the crash.
And he wants to be paid for his suffering.
Last month, Belniak’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the now-deceased driver of the other car, alleging the crash was the victim’s fault. Attorney Debra A. Tuomey, who is also Belniak’s sister, said the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation of the case was a “government sanctioned assassination against one individual.”
Belniak, of Spring Hill, is the son of Alfred and Marlene Belniak, who owned a construction company in Hernando County. Records show that Belniak was an officer in his parents’ company and that he, his parents and their entities own more than two dozen properties in west Hernando.
“Mr. Belniak is simply seeking to disclose the truth,” she said.
The suit asks for the victims’ relatives to pay Belniak, 38, for his “pain and suffering … mental anguish … loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life” and the medical bills he got as a result of a crash he pleaded guilty to causing.
“This is ridiculous,” said Georgette DeFranco, 48, a relative of the victims. “You caused it. You accepted guilt. How can I or anybody in this family be responsible for your injuries?”
DeFranco lost her mother, Linda McWilliams, 66; her sister, Denise Bassi, 50, and her brother-in-law, Gerard Bassi, 51, in the crash. DeFranco’s stepfather, Ray McWilliams, was injured but survived. Family members said he never fully recovered and he died last March at age 68. The Bassi couple lived in Connecticut and were visiting Florida for the holidays. Their three daughters decorate their parents’ graves each Christmas.