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Superior man accused of fatally stabbing his mother set for trial

One of the potential witnesses is also facing homicide charges.

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Robert Lee Bennett III, left, is escorted to the courtroom for a preliminary hearing in Superior on Oct. 7, 2020.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — The trial for a Superior man accused of fatally stabbing his mother is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Dec. 5 in Douglas County Circuit Court.

Robert Lee Bennett III, 42, faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide for the 2020 death of Cindy Bennett. Attorneys met with Circuit Court Judge Kelly Thimm on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for rulings on a number of motions and to discuss how to handle the fact that one of the state’s proposed witnesses, a former Superior police sergeant, is facing homicide charges himself.

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Robert Lee Bennett III

Superior police were called to 49 Norwood Ave. at 6:55 a.m. Sept. 29, 2020, for a report of a stabbing. The victim, identified by police as Cindy Bennett, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy indicated she suffered stab wounds to her arm, back, neck, face and head from a knife and a metal cooking probe, according to the criminal complaint.

When questioned after the incident by Superior Police Detective Sean Holmgren, Bennett admitted to stabbing his mother, the criminal complaint said. He told police his mother had been acting “un-normal” and wanted to take him to the hospital, which he did not like. He reportedly told Holmgren that he threw his mother to the ground after she pointed a needle at him.

Bennett remains in custody at the Douglas County Jail. Bail for the Superior man was set at $1 million.

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The state’s amended witness list for the trial names more than 20 members of the Superior Police Department, including three retired detectives and former Sergeant Gregory Swanson, who resigned from the department Aug. 4.

Swanson interviewed Robert Bennett’s sister, according to the criminal complaint. He is also facing homicide charges himself. Swanson, 43, of Solon Springs, is accused of killing two people and injuring two others during a July 15 traffic crash in Superior’s Itasca neighborhood. According to the criminal complaint in that case, Swanson had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.190 at the time of the crash.

During Tuesday's hearing, Thimm told the attorneys for the Bennett case — District Attorney Mark Fruehauf and defense attorney Michael Hoffman — that instead of asking potential jurors if they are aware of pending charges against Swanson they could ask “Does anyone know Gergory Swanson?” or “Have you heard anything about him?” If a potential juror indicates they have, they would be asked “Could you set that aside?”

Thimm also indicated that there will only be one alternate juror, because many jurors have been excused already. A full week has been scheduled for the Bennett trial. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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