ST. GEORGE – Utah’s Fifth District Court is currently waiting on mental evaluations for defendants in a murder and attempted murder case. Separate from each other, the cases involve David Keith Benson and Craig Manwill Bennett.
Benson, 76, of Washington, is charged with the first degree felony murder of his wife, Madelin Benson, on Oct. 31, 2012. According to court documents, Benson attacked and killed his wife with a hammer.
Benson was arrested after a family member contacted the police. When they arrived, court documents state Benson told the officers he didn’t know why he had attacked and killed his wife, and said he had “continual homicidal thoughts towards others and himself.”
Attorneys representing Benson have since filed a motion for a mental evaluation that was approved by the court on Dec. 12, 2012.
The court has order that Benson be evaluated by at least two mental health professionals with the Utah Department of Human Services. Once an evaluation is done, the court will be presented with written reports determining whether or not Benson is competent to stand trial.
As of Jan. 15, one report has been received. The wait on the second report has pushed Benson’s next hearing – a mental competency hearing – to Jan. 22.
Craig Manwill Bennett, 31, of Hurricane, was arrested on Nov. 28, 2012, after allegedly shooting a 48-year-old man in a trailer park in Harrisburg. Critically injured, the man was air-lifted via Life Flight to Las Vegas for treatment.
Initial calls into the St. George Communications Center indicated Bennett was outside of the man’s trailer and was making threatening comments toward him. Dispatch then received several calls from residents reporting what they believed to be gunshots. Officers arrived and found Bennett at the scene and detained him for questioning. They located the other man inside his trailer with what appeared to be gunshot wounds to the side of his head and his shoulder/arm area.
Bennett’s attorneys have also filed a motion to have their client’s mental competency evaluated. The motion was granted on Jan. 9, 2013.
Bennett’s next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 31.
Should either Benson or Bennett be found mentally incompetent, their trials will be stayed (paused) for a time.
Ed. Note: Persons arrested are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.