ksl.com – Utah’s Online Source for Local News & Information Benvenuto Denied Change of Plea
This rat <beep> murdered a good friend of mine 10 years ago whom I was with the night before he was killed. This whole thing makes me very angry. Let him rot.
The story is from the Associated Press:
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jorge Benvenuto, who killed one teenager, left another for dead and told police he had wanted to see how it felt to kill someone, has been denied a change of his guilty plea.
At the hearing Thursday, the slain youth’s mother asked Benvenuto, “What was it like to watch someone die? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?”
Benvenuto, 28, glanced once at Sy Snarr, lowered his eyes and shook his head.
Soon after that, 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas denied Benvenuto’s request to set aside guilty pleas he entered in 1997 to avoid the death penalty.
Defense attorney Grant Morrison argued the pleas were invalid because Benvenuto, a Uruguayan citizen, was never informed of his right under the Vienna Convention to contact a Uruguayan consulate.
Himonas said there was no violation of the convention because Benvenuto had told his attorneys and the judge who accepted his pleas that he was a U.S. citizen.
Benvenuto was born in Uruguay and came to the United States with his mother when he was 8. He was a permanent U.S. resident but never received citizenship.
Morrison said after the hearing that he would appeal the judge’s decision to the Utah Supreme Court.
On the night of Aug. 28, 1996, Zachary Snarr and Yvette Rodier, both 18, were photographing the full moon over Little Dell Reservoir when they were approached by Benvenuto who asked for directions and then shot them with his new .44-caliber Magnum revolver.
Benvenuto, then 19, fired until the gun was empty, striking Snarr three times.
Rodier, hit in the leg and torso, was still screaming, so he reloaded and shot her again in the head. She survived.
Benvenuto pleaded guilty in October 1997 to aggravated murder and attempted murder.
When he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, the victims’ families believed their ordeal was over.
On Thursday, Rodier called Benvenuto’s legal motions “a shameful attempt” to use “a hypertechnicality” to renege on the plea deal.
Rodier said she has married, started a family and “found ways to live again.”
She said returning to court with Benvenuto was “like being shot again.”
Sy Snarr agreed. “Being here today is a terrible nightmare for me and my family.”
Benvenuto’s mother, Nelida Valdez, said after the hearing that her son is not an evil person. She said he has mental problems that prison officials refuse to recognize or treat.
Benvenuto tried to withdraw his pleas soon after he entered them, claiming he was too depressed, distressed and confused to know what he was doing at the time.
Mental health evaluators found Benvenuto was depressed, but not to the point where it interfered with his ability to understand what he was doing when he pleaded guilty.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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