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West Hartford man sentenced in death of 66-year-old Avon grandmother

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FARMINGTON --  Before a judge in Hartford Superior Court on Monday afternoon, 27-year-old Bennett Dunbar was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended after he serves three years, and three years of probation for his role in the death of 66-year-old Janet Pulver.

Pulver's family members read a tearful testimony before the judge, talking about Pulver as a dedicated mother, grandmother and sister who cared about family above all.

"She was my second mother, and I loved her more than words can explain," said Oneal Smith, Pulver's son-in-law.

"I never dreamed one of us would be taken so suddenly and so tragically," said Pulver's sister, Mariann Fitch.

According to a Farmington police investigation, Dunbar was driving to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting when he hit Pulver's car around 4 p.m. on October 20, 2016 on Route 4 in Farmington.

Judge Julia Dewey said in court on Monday that Dunbar was going between 65-80mph and recklessly shifting lanes before the crash. Dewey said the force of the crash broke virtually every bone in Pulver's body.

Choking back tears, Pulver's daughter and son-in-law spoke about the pain of losing their mother.

"She was a great mother," said Tracy Smith. "She was my best friend, and she was a great grandma."

"She was the one I invited over to watch the Super Bowl with, to have pizza and wings with instead of some of the guys," said Oneal Smith, her son-in-law. "I would invite my mother-in-law. She was just that kind of person."

Prosecutors in court said Dunbar suffers from ADHD, PTSD and depression, and had fentanyl and marijuana in his system the afternoon of the crash.

Choking back tears in court, Dunbar apologized to Pulver's family, saying he has little to no recollection of the crash.

"It was a horrible accident that affected so many people, and I have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life," said Dunbar.

But Pulver's family members said they now have to live without their beloved mother, grandmother and sister.

"No one should have to die that way and go through what her and her children have to go through, and it's been the toughest on them," said Susan Bookman, Pulver's sister.

Dunbar must also complete 100 community service hours, as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment.

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