Benjamins murder trial postponed until February


By OJ Stapleton - ostapleton@newsdemocratleader.com



Benjamins


The murder trial of Gerald Allen Benjamins, who is accused of killing 36-year-old Brad Rigney, was originally scheduled to begin this week, but has been postponed until February after both Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling and the defense asked for a continuance for the trial.

A suppression hearing has been set for Oct. 5 in which the defense is asking for statements Benjamins made to Russellville Police Department detective Kenneth Edmonds be kept out of the trial.

The defense also announced plans to introduce several expert witnesses, which the prosecution needs time to prepare for. Also, Guiling disclosed that a witness may have seen another man at the home of Rigney around the time of his death and the defense needed time to look into those possibilities as well.

The trial is now set for Feb. 22 with a plea deadline of Feb. 18. That will be over two years after Rigney was killed.

Benjamins was was arrested a year ago this month in Jeffersonville, Ind., after he was picked up at a soup kitchen in the southern Indiana town outside of Louisville. He has remained in jail ever since.

According to RPD detective Kenneth Edmonds, Rigney and Benjamins met over the Internet and were online acquaintances.

In the early part of the investigation into the murder, Benjamins was identified as a possible suspect and interviewed by Edmonds on Jan. 17, 2014.

“Some of the things he said during the interview just didn’t add up,” Edmonds said.

DNA evidence from Rigney’s bedroom was sent away for testing and after several months, it was discovered to be a match to Benjamins, who denied ever being in Rigney’s home.

Once it was confirmed that Benjamins had been inside Rigney’s home, the Russellville Police began looking for him.

When he was interviewed in January, Benjamins was living in Hopkinsville, but had since moved on, Edmonds said.

“He had been living in missions and asking churches for help,” Edmonds said. “We were able to track him to the bus station in Bowling Green and found that he rode to Louisville, which is where we started looking for him.”

He was then ultimately picked up in Jeffersonville.

Edmonds said the initial list of suspects was quite large as the RPD had names of several possible acquaintances, but Benjamins first became a suspect when a car he was driving, a gold PT Cruiser, while living in Hopkinsville was seen at Rigney’s home around the time of the murder by both neighbors and the mailman, Edmonds said.

During the interview, Benjamins admitted to being an online acquaintance of Rigney, but denied ever meeting him in person, but in addition to the physical DNA evidence, Edmonds said he also discovered that Benjamins had gotten directions to Rigney’s home.

According to the RPD, Benajamins was originally from Hogdenville, but had been living in California for several years before moving back to Kentucky about a year to a year and a half ago.

The police got the call to investigate the killing at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, and responded to a call at 524 Rhea Blvd. Upon arriving at the residence, Rigney’s body was found.

The RPD issued a statement soon after the killing that said it was not believed to be a random act of violence because Rigney possibly knew his attacker or attackers.

The RPD investigators worked with other agencies, including the FBI, Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metro Police and the Nashville Metro Police, in order to find out information that helped lead to the identity of Rigney’s killer.

Rigney, who was deaf, lived alone at the Rhea Blvd. residence. His body was first discovered by his brother and sister-in-law, who then called 911.

An autopsy was performed on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, and the preliminary indication was that Rigney had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

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By OJ Stapleton

ostapleton@newsdemocratleader.com

To contact OJ Stapleton, email ostapleton@newsdemocratleader.com or call 270-726-8394.

To contact OJ Stapleton, email ostapleton@newsdemocratleader.com or call 270-726-8394.

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