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Driver sentenced in fatal crash

A 20-year-old New Port Richey man has been sentenced to prison for a drunken driving accident on U.S 19 in Hudson that killed a nurse traveling to her job at an assisted living facility in Tarpon Springs. Benjamin Lloyd Mercer had pleaded no contest to driving under the influence manslaughter. Circuit Judge W. Lowell Bray on Tuesday sentenced Mercer to 10{ years in prison. He also must serve 4{ years' probation, and his driving privileges were revoked for life. Prosecutors say Mercer had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the level at which a driver is presumed to be impaired. Mercer admitted drinking nine beers before the crash. Prosecutors say he also was using marijuana. Witnesses said Mercer was speeding and swerving across the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 on Oct. 5, 2001. At the intersection of Bonita Road, Mercer's Cadillac slammed into Judith Carlson's Kia. Carlson was dead at the scene. She was 59.

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