Richard Bennett, former VRI official, acquitted on marijuana charge

Richard Bennett hugs his wife, Jessica Bennett, Tuesday after Judge Barry Steelman acquitted him on a marijuana charge.
photo Richard Bennett speaks to supporters after appearing before Judge Barry Steelman on Thursday, December 10, 2014, for charges of marijuana possession.

A judge acquitted A Better Tomorrow founder Richard Bennett of possession of marijuana charges Tuesday before his trial had even finished.

Though Bennett initially said he intended to testify, he returned after a brief recess and told Judge Barry Steelman he had changed his mind. The defense rested without calling any witnesses.

At that point, Steelman said the state hadn't met their burden of proof, and that he couldn't say with "moral certainty" that Bennett even knew the marijuana was in the glove box of his car.

He pointed to the testimony of Bennett's wife, who said up to five people could have driven the van around the time of the arrest in June of last year, and to testimony from a police officer who said Bennett wasn't in the van when the marijuana was discovered.

Bennett's acquittal means all charges related to 2014 incident have now been dropped.

See previous coverage here and here.