Judge finds murder suspect Benson mentally incompetent, ordered to state hospital

ST. GEORGE – A man accused of killing his wife with a hammer last year was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial Tuesday.

David Keith Benson, 76, of Washington, is charged with killing his wife, Madelin Benson, on Oct. 31, 2012. According to court documents, the cause of death was due to multiple blows from a blunt object which was determined to be a hammer. Benson contacted a family member after the incident, who in turn called police. When the police arrived on the scene 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.”

In December 2012, Benson’s attorneys filed a motion for a mental evaluation of their client. According to state law, two mental health professionals need to interview the suspect and issue letters to the court with their findings.

Benson has since been interviewed and the letters have been received by the court and reviewed by Judge John Walton. Walton said both evaluations found Benson currently incompetent to stand trial, though there was a difference of opinion on whether or not he could be “returned to competency.”

Attorney Douglas Terry, one of Benson’s lawyers, presented the court with a letter recommending Benson be sent to the Utah State Hospital for treatment in order to determined if he could regain competence or not.

There were no objections from the Washington County Attorney concerning the matter, and Judge Walton signed the letter ordering Benson be transferred to the hospital.

Ed. Note: Persons arrested are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2013, all rights reserved

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