MELBOURNE, Florida. — A 33-year-old Palm Bay man was arrested on Monday in connection with a 2021 traffic accident that killed the manager of a Melbourne restaurant, police said.
Benjamin Jay Moore was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and falsifying evidence.
Melbourne police said an extensive investigation led to the arrest of Moore, who is accused of assaulting and killing 28-year-old Nathanael “Puppy” Real from Melbourne in November 2021.
Real was fatally hit by a pickup truck that was speeding about 25 mph in the early hours of Nov. 27 on US 1 between New Haven and Strawbridge avenues near the mansion where he worked, police said.
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According to an affidavit, he was found dead on South Harbor City Boulevard around 2 a.m., next to stray car parts and other debris from the wreck.
The next day, the suspect’s lawyer gave the police the keys and location of the car after the accident, saying, “Do whatever you want with the car,” according to the sworn statement.
The suspect vehicle was found abandoned on Emerson Drive Northwest, about a half mile east of St. John’s Heritage Boulevard in Palm Bay, with a headlight removed and significant damage to the front passenger side, affidavits show.
The video shows the car involved in the accident fleeing and eventually turning into the Country Garden II apartment where Moore lives, located at 1688 Sunny Brook Lane in Palm Bay. According to the affidavit, he then went to the Malabar Discount Beverage store to buy cigarettes and a drink at approximately 10:00 am, and then to the MetroPCS store around 6:40 pm to buy a new mobile phone on November 27.
Police said they were eventually able to identify Moore from cell phone data and DNA evidence.
Authorities determined on Friday that Moore was the driver and officers said he was taken into custody on Monday.
Moore then posted $90,000 bail after appearing before a judge at the Brevard County Jail.
His lawyer maintained that he was innocent.
“There is literally nothing in this affidavit that would indicate that Mr. Moore is driving a car,” said Patrick Landy. “Literally, the only thing the state claims is that Mr. Moore was the registered owner of the vehicle.”
Moore is due back in court next month to face charges.
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