ST. GEORGE – An attempted murder case from 2012 appears to be moving forward with a preliminary hearing scheduled for the end of March by a 5th District Court judge Tuesday.
The case involving defendant Craig Manwill Bennett, 34, has been stayed twice before due to issues regarding his competency to proceed to trial. Bennett was recently declared restored to competence by officials at the Utah State Hospital in Provo and subsequently returned to Washington County.
Due to issues surrounding Bennett’s mental health, he was originally sent to the State Hospital in 2013 and again in 2015. The second stay occurred due to Bennett’s refusal to take medication.
Bennett is accused of attempting to kill a man with a shotgun on the night of Nov. 27, 2012. The incident happened at a trailer park in the Harrisburg community along Interstate 15. The victim, a 48-year-old trailer park resident, was flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition and ultimately survived the altercation.
Bennett is being held at the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Bennett’s attorney, Ed Flint, who appeared with his client in court Tuesday morning, said he met twice with Bennett since his return from the State Hospital. Flint said he agrees with the State Hospital’s assessment of Bennett and also expressed his client’s desire to move the case forward.
A date for a preliminary hearing was requested, though Washington County Attorney Ryan Shaum told the court the prosecution would need about three weeks to contact witnesses – one of whom is out of state.
Judge Eric Ludlow set a preliminary hearing in Bennett’s case for March 31.
Bennett faces a first-degree felony charge for the attempted murder, as well as two class A misdemeanors in an unrelated incident that occurred in September 2015. In the latest incident, Bennett allegedly threw objects at a police officer and nurse while incarcerated.
That case will trail the attempted murder case at the end of the month.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.