Benson paved the way for the prosecutor by his immediate and detailed confessions, but where his confessions failed, he kept up his loyalty to Team Prosecution by leaving some DNA evidence on all of the women. And the composite police sketch produced by descriptions from one of the survivors looks exactly like Trent in the most remarkable sketch-to-suspect match I personally have ever seen.
After hearing the prosecutor lay out her case in her opening, I wondered what was left for Tim Agan to work with.
Well, with his daughter watching from the gallery (as she had done from time to time in the Hausner trial), Agan showed that he is a veteran. He broke down each crime into its components and found the weak link, such as it might be. For instance, as distasteful as this may sound, he pointed out it may not be possible to determine if certain acts were committed against the women while they were unconscious (sexual assault) or if they had already died while Benson was acting out his vicious little what shall I call it, ritual? Agan's point was you cannot "assault" a corpse. Benson is not charged with abusing a corpse, he's charged with sexual assault. I had to grudgingly admire the inventiveness of Agan's strategy. If forensic evidence is hazy on this point, he might just win a few rounds.
But he won't win all of them. Benson's crimes are despicable and disgusting and locked in with too much evidence, both forensic and eyewitness, and taped confessions. Just to put a more chilling twist to the whole tragic saga, Benson went home after one or more of these incidents to get his little kid tucked into bed (he had sole custody).
Benson has a remarkable back story. Adopted as a young child from South Korea, he was raised in a tiny town in Minnesota by parents who, by all accounts including his own, are wonderful. So wonderful, they are standing by him even through this. I sat behind them while they stoically listened to the most graphic and ugly personal details about their son, who apparently began patronizing prostitutes in his college years in Minneapolis and began killing them in his 30s in Phoenix.
I can't imagine how painful and repugnant the details of the crimes were to the senior Bensons, people whose compassion and tenderness were great enough to reach all the way to the opposite side of the world where they saw a little boy who needed them. These details were way too painful and repugnant for me, a professional crime writer and veteran journalist. We all have a place where we draw the line and this is where I draw mine. I won't be going back into this courtroom. That isn't to say it isn't a compelling case and it's important to keep our justice system out in the open. It's just I won't be the one on the hard bench for this one. I'll leave this one to Michael Kiefer. If you have an interest in this case, I recommend following Kiefer's byline at the Arizona Republic.
Wish I had a better picture of Michael. Here he is caught in the background at the A SUDDEN SHOT viewing party for the airing of Wicked Attraction (Shoot to Thrill).
Reporter Michael Kiefer (background). Serial Killer survivor Paul Patrick and his rescuer, Saul Guerrero (foreground)
Copyright Camille Kimball