City man acquitted of murder in stabbing

Jury is deadlocked on manslaughter charge in death of ex-reporter's son

'It was never intentional'

December 13, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury acquitted a man yesterday of three murder counts in the fatal stabbing of the son of a one-time noted local television personality. But the jury deadlocked on a final count of manslaughter.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision as to whether the death of 22-year-old Corey Bennett -- who the defense says was killed in an act of self-defense -- was unlawful. The judge declared a mistrial for the manslaughter count, meaning the defendant, Samtoya Williams, could face another trial.

Bennett, son of former WBAL-TV feature reporter Ray Bennett, was stabbed in the chest in April last year outside his girlfriend's house in the 1600 block of Presbury St.

Williams, 31, was charged with first- and second-degree murder in the killing, which prosecutors said was committed during an argument over a woman.

Jurors said yesterday that they deliberated for five days because they believed they could reach a unanimous verdict. Several jurors declined to speak on the record but said they did not find many of the case witnesses to be credible.

They also said the majority of the group wanted to acquit Williams on the manslaughter count.

Williams said after the verdict that he did not intend to kill Bennett.

"I want to thank the jury for what they have given me," he said outside the courtroom. "I send condolences to the family. It was never intentional."

Ray Bennett, who was a television reporter from 1976 until 1988, has followed the case vigilantly. He said yesterday that he was numb.

"I find it difficult to believe they had the evidence they had and could not come back with a guilty verdict," Bennett said. "But then, I'm a father."

Corey Bennett's girlfriend, Nashon Logan, testified last week that Bennett frequently hit her. She said she was unsure who killed Bennett, a statement that contradicts what she told police in the days after the killing.

At the time, she told detectives that Williams, whom she considered a brother, killed Bennett.

According to her testimony, she and Bennett were in her bedroom at 10 p.m. when Williams rattled the door. Logan went to the door and peeked out, after which Williams pulled on her arm -- causing Bennett to become angry.

The two men started fighting before Bennett walked out of the house, and Williams followed him.

The defense contends Bennett had a bat and hit Williams; the prosecution contends Bennett was unarmed and that he did not strike Williams, who was carrying a knife, according to testimony.

Bennett was stabbed seconds later, according to testimony.

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