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Ex-Gladstone cop Lynn Benton guilty in wife's murder
Former Gladstone police officer Lynn Benton was found guilty on all charges related to the murder of his wife in 2011.
A jury reached a verdict after five days of deliberation in the case that lasted more than a month. He will be sentenced next Tuesday on three counts of solicitation to commit aggravated murder, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder.
There are sentencing options at Judge Steeles disposal. Benton could be sentenced to death,life without the possibility of parole or life with parole possible after a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Benton, 54, was charged with aggravated murder and conspiring with 2 other people to kill his wife, Debbie Higbee-Benton, in 2011. Detectives claimed his motive was to protect his career from allegations Debbie was going to make about domestic violence. Lynn Benton was born female but transitioned and identifies as male.
Higbee-Bentons death was initially ruled a heart attack. The medical examiner later said she had been shot and strangled.
Over the course of the trial that began in early September, prosecutors laid out their case and used a jailhouse informant as one of their key witnesses.
Bentons defense countered that this was a conclusion in search of evidence.
But on Friday afternoon, the jury found Lynn Benton was guilty of everything the prosecution said he did.
A statement from the city of Gladstone said:
In the Lynn Edward Benton case, the city of Gladstone recognizes the work of the jury and thanks them for their service. The jury heard a tremendous amount of evidence for a tragic situation and made a very difficult decision.
A few things remain true for the city of Gladstone and the Gladstone Police Department:
Our condolences and deepest sympathies go out to the family of Debbie Higbee and all those affected by this tragedy. Debbie was a beloved member of our community and missed by those who knew her. There are no winners in this case and these lives are forever altered.
We will continue to make the safety and well-being of the community of Gladstone our top priority. We are grateful for the support weve received and look forward to continuing the good work of building a strong community that our residents are proud to be part of.