Serial Killer Trent Benson Gets 2 Death Sentences
PHOENIX — A convicted serial rapist and killer has received two deaths sentences for the slayings of two prostitutes during a Mesa crime spree.
A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Friday found that Trent Christopher Benson, 39, qualified for the death penalty because of three aggravating factors: he had been convicted of other crimes that were punishable by life or death sentences; that the murders were committed in an especially heinous, cruel or depravated manner; and he was convicted of other serious crimes.
Benson was convicted Sept. 12 of the attacks which began in November 2004 when the body of Alisa Marie Beck was found in an alley one day before her 22nd birthday. She had been beaten and strangled.
Benson, 39, was arrested three years later after another prostitute, Karen Campbell, 44, was strangled and dumped in the street. In between the murders, two other women were attacked, but survived. One of them was choked and left for dead, but survived. The other ran for her life when her attackers were startled in the middle of the rape.
Benson went on trial in August on 10 charges in the four attacks: two counts of first-degree murder and four counts each of kidnapping and sexual assault.
Prosecutors said DNA evidence linked Benson to all four attacks, although he denied involvement in one of the rapes, while confessing to the other three attacks.
Tim Agan, Benson’s attorney, said that Benson was born in South Korea and was abandoned as an infant. He was adopted by a family in Minnesota and was about to flee there when he was arrested in May 2008.
Agan argued that the two fatal attacks were crimes in the heat of the moment and second-degree murders, not premeditated.
Benson was sentenced to prison terms ranging from 7 years to 28 years on the kidnapping and sexual assault charges.
From an earlier article describing the killer.
The suspected serial predator accused of sexually assaulting four women, killing two of them, was known as a polite, soft-spoken car salesman, but he also kept his private life to himself.
“He was always somewhat quiet and subdued. He was a little bit mysterious. No one really knows what he did with his spare time,” said Mike Fraccola, a central Mesa used-car dealer.
Fraccola and his staff were shocked Thursday after Mesa police identified Trent Christopher Benson, 36, as the man they arrested the day before in the series of brutal crimes, in which women described as prostitutes were found strangled in Mesa and a Phoenix woman was dumped unconscious, apparently left for dead.
He is a father of a 7 year old son. I feel so bad for the boy and can only help that he is getting therapy. I can only imagine what the children of these monsters go through.
I know that his victims had children as well and again I am hoping that they are getting love, understanding and therapy.
Benson was not new to the police as he had been arrested before.
He pleaded guilty in 2001 in Mesa Municipal Court to public sexual indecency and loitering, charges that prosecutors say are consistent in prostitution cases. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, paid a $555 fine and was placed on probation for three years.
In May 1997, Phoenix police arrested and booked Benson into jail on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute.
Benson did not have a large ‘body count’ but his crimes were still very brutal:
On Oct. 31, 2004, Benson told police that he picked up Alisa Marie Beck, a prostitute, after visiting a strip club and that he became angry when she complained about how long he took to have sex. Benson strangled her, slammed her face into the steering wheel, tore her genitals and then dumped her body.
A family of seven found her the next day, naked from the waist down, face-up and on the gravel. She was one day shy of turning 22.
It would take three years before police made an arrest in her murder — after another prostitute was strangled and dumped in the street and two other women were sexually assaulted. On Oct. 14, 2007, Karen Campbell — a 44-year-old prostitute — went to Benson’s house to have sex with him. Benson said she wanted more money and that she became violent when he refused.
Benson also was accused in the kidnapping and rapes of two women. On the afternoon of Aug. 16, 2007, a 48-year-old woman was walking in Mesa when two men jumped out of a white car and put a chemical-soaked rag over her face.
She passed out, according to Valenzuela, and awoke to a man raping her while the second man filmed them. She reported seeing herself on large-format TVs as she was being raped. The two men were distracted by a sound in the house, and the woman grabbed her clothes and fled.
Benson denied any part in the incident, but his DNA was found on the woman’s body. The second man was never identified, and some of the details the woman gave about her attacker did not match Benson.
The other sexual assault was on Nov. 4, 2007, when Benson admitted to snatching a 34-year-old homeless woman off the street in Phoenix, dragging her to his car, raping her and choking her until she lost consciousness. Police said Benson tore the woman’s genitals and left her, but a taxi driver who saw her lying in the street called police and she survived.
Benson said the woman was a prostitute and that they had quarreled over the deal. Valenzuela said the woman was not a prostitute.
Benson did live with his brother but police say that he was not the second man. As far as I can find that guy is still a mystery.
We will have to see if Benson dies from his sentence or old age.