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Jury reaches second guilty verdict in Superior homicide trial

Earlier this week a jury found Robert Lee Bennett III guilty of homicide for fatally stabbing his mother. They found he was responsible for his actions on Thursday.

Robert Lee Bennett III, right, watches as testimony is played on a monitor in Judge Kelly Thimm’s courtroom as Michael Hoffman takes notes
Robert Lee Bennett III, right, watches as testimony is played on a monitor in Judge Kelly Thimm’s courtroom as Michael Hoffman takes notes in the Douglas County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, Dec. 6, 2022. Bennett is accused of fatally stabbing his mother, Cindy Bennett, in Superior in 2020.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — In back-to-back verdicts this week, a Douglas County jury found Robert Lee Bennett III, 42, guilty of homicide for fatally stabbing his mother, Cindy Bennett, on Sept. 29, 2020, and responsible for the criminal conduct. The two-phase trial began Monday, Dec. 5 and ended Thursday, Dec. 8 in Douglas County Circuit Court.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict and acknowledge that this was no ordinary or easy case for them to have to sit through,” Douglas County District Attorney Mark Fruehauf said the Friday, Dec. 9, in an email to the Telegram. “They should be commended for paying careful attention to the evidence put on by both sides and having to view and listen to a lot of graphic evidence.”

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.

The first phase of the trial focused on the question of whether Bennett was guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. It involved testimony from Superior Police officers and family members about the morning of the stabbing as well as body camera evidence, autopsy findings, crime lab analysis and a recording of the police interview with Bennett, according to online court records.

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The jury of 12 deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday, Dec. 7, before finding Bennett guilty.

In phase two of the trial, which lasted one day, they were asked to answer two questions:

  • Did Bennett have a mental disease or defect at the time of the stabbing?
  • Did he lack the ability to appreciate the conduct was wrong or conform his conduct to the requirements of the law due to the mental disease or defect?

Following more than two hours of deliberation Thursday, the jury answered “Yes” to the first question and “No” to the second.
“My heart breaks over what the family of Cindy Bennett has had to go through and it has been a true honor to work with them on this case. They are a wonderful group of people who have had to go through something so terrible,” Fruehauf said. “They have waited very patiently for this day, which I know has been difficult, and I am glad we are now one step closer to being able to conclude this case for them.”

Bennett's $1 million cash bond was revoked and a sentencing hearing was set for Feb. 10.

This story was updated at 11 a.m. Dec. 9 with quotes from Douglas County District Attorney Mark Fruehauf. It was originally posted at 9:14 a.m. Dec. 9.

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