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Episode 180: Marc Benayer Represents Himself (part 1)

This episode contains the testimony of Marc Benayer, 81, who represented himself at his 2007 murder trial in Boca Raton, Florida. After Benayer’s girlfriend Marta Pinto, 44, had broken up with him, he allegedly began stalking and harassing her, claiming she owed him $10,000. Marta, who spoke very little English, worked at an electronics company, and she turned to her bosses, Mark Levy and Jonathan Samuels, for help in getting a restraining order against her elderly suitor.

In 2005, after the Rosh Hashanah service at the Chabad Weltman Synagogue in Boca Raton, Benayer shot Jonathan Samuels, 43, twice in the back. He died nine months later. Mr. Benayer claimed the shooting was an accident, and that Samuels’ death was due to a heart attack. At his trial, the eccentric and irascible Benayer fired his attorney and decided to represent himself. Unsurprisingly, the jury found him guilty. Later, while behind bars, Benayer tried to hire a hitman to kill his former defense attorney along with Mark Levy, a prosecution witness. In reality, the hitman was an undercover Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy.

While Benayer had been diagnosed with dementia, a personality disorder and the early onset of Alzheimer’s, psychiatrists examined him before the trial and declared him competent to represent himself. Others may disagree. Benayer died in prison in August 2015, aged 89.

This episode contains Mr. Benayer’s excruciating cross-examination of his ex- girlfriend Marta’s daughter Henriette, 18, and Marta’s new boyfriend, Martin Fried.

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Episode 180: Marc Benayer Represents Himself (part 1)
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Episode 179: Ted Bundy Final Interview

When sentencing Ted Bundy to death, Florida Judge Edward Cowart told him that, had things turned out differently, he would have made a fine lawyer. Cowart’s statement is followed by Bundy’s interview with Dr. James Dobson the night before his execution by electric chair in January 1989, in which he blames his crimes on access to hard-core pornography as a teenager.

 

 

 

 

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Episode 179: Ted Bundy Final Interview
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Episode 178: Bo Pete Jeffrey Trial

December, 2018. Lisa Jeffrey, 48, of Ocala, Florida, hadn’t been seen for a few days; relatives became concerned and contacted the police. When cops searched the trailer where Lisa lived with her ex-husband, 57-year-old Bo Pete Jeffrey, they found her body, along with a pair of blood-stained boxing gloves, stuffed into garbage bags under his camper bed. Lisa, who had Crohn’s disease, alcoholism and a drug problem, had been beaten to death.

During the police interview, Bo Pete is not in good shape. He retches and vomits constantly, and is finally taken to the hospital. The next day, feeling a little better, he admits he beat Lisa after an argument but claims she passed out and died “on the commode.” He said he welcomed her death because he hated her so much, but he insisted he didn’t intend to kill her, and hid the body because he felt guilty for beating her.

In July 2021, Bo Pete Jeffrey was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

(Audio quality is poor due to recording conditions).

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Episode 178: Bo Pete Jeffrey Trial
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Episode 177: Murder of Lance Herndon

On August 8, 1996, playboy bachelor Lance Herndon, 41, was found bludgeoned to death in his bed at his home in Roswell, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Police claim the killer climbed onto his naked body and straddled him, then beat him in the head and face. The murder weapon was never found.

The investigation into Herndon’s death uncovered a complicated web of relationships. He was still closely involved with his third ex-wife, Jeannine Price, the beneficiary of his insurance policy. His current girlfriend, the glamorous Kathi Collins, was unaware that Lance was also involved on/off romantic relationships with various other pretty, light-skinned black women, including his assistant Tallana Carraway as well as a nursing student named Dionne Baugh. Dionne, who was married to a Jamaican airline pilot, told police that Herndon was obsessively fastidious and liked anal sex; she suggested he might also have had a secret gay life. In addition, Herdon’s financial dealings were complicated and ethically doubtful. His company was in serious financial difficulty, and he was almost broke.

Investigators concluded that Dionne beat Lance to death in a moment of jealous rage while the couple were having sex. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but her sentence was later reversed on a technicality. In 2004, at her second trial, she pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was released in July 2011.

This episode includes testimony from Lance’s mother, Jackie Herndon, and his ex-wife, Jeannine Herndon.

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Episode 177: Murder of Lance Herndon
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Episode 176: Aileen Wuornos Trial

In January 1992, Aileen Wuornos, a sex worker, stood trial for the murder of 52-year-old Richard Mallory, who’d picked her up when she was hitch-hiking. When she was intially interviewed by police, Wuornos said she shot Mallory because he threatened to rape her. However, at trial, her testimony about the incident was much more graphic and disturbing. At this time, she’d confessed to murdering six men in addition to Mallory, all in self-defense (in fact, Mallory had a prior conviction for sexual abuse, but this fact was not allowed into evidence). To law enforcement and the state’s attorney, Wuornos gave a number of inconsistent versions of events; her attorneys discouraged her from testifying in court, but she insisted on taking the stand. Her account fell apart under close questioning, especially after her longtime girlfriend, Tyria Moore, took a deal and testified against her.

On Jan. 27, 1992, she was found guilty of first-degree murder. Four days later, she was sentenced to death. Wuornos was executed in October 2002.

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Episode 176: Aileen Wuornos Trial
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Episode 175: Marvin Heemyer “Killdozer” Tape

Marvin Heemyer had come to the end of his tether. The welder and muffler repairman had moved to the small town of Granby, Colorado, around 1990. In 1992, he bought 2 acres of land for $42,000 to build a muffler repair shop. He subsequently agreed to sell the land to a man named Cody Docheff, who wanted to build a concrete plant. Around 2001, he became embroiled in an arcane zoning dispute that left him completely unhinged.

Heemyer, 53, began to plan a vigilante attack. He bought a heavy-duty bulldozer, armored it with steel and concrete, and cut a portal in the back through which he mounted an arsenal of guns. On June 4, 2004, following what he believed to be God’s will, Marvin drove his “killdozer” into the town of Granby, destroying the homes of his enemies: the town hall, the former mayor’s house, the library, and the hardware store. When the police began moving in, Marvin shot himself.

Heemyer may have been deluded, but his intense conviction is difficult to condemn, and it’s hard not to admire the violent insanity of his indignant rampage.

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Episode 175: Marvin Heemyer "Killdozer" Tape
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Episode 174: Romance Novelist Murder Trial

Dan Brophy, 63, was a well-known chef and popular teacher at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. In the morning of June 2, 2018, Dan was gunned down while he was prepping for the day’s work in the school’s kitchen. He had no known enemies. However, Dan and his wife, Nancy, were having serious financial problems and to shore up the couple’s finances, Nancy, a self-published romance novelist, had taken a job selling life insurance. Friends of the couple testified that their marriage was strong and stable; others noted that Nancy was tired of Dan’s hoarding and messiness.

During the trial, it was revealed that Dan was heavily insured, and Nancy had recently purchased a “ghost gun” kit online (for “research purposes,” she said). In addition, Nancy’s van was seen near the scene of the crime. And although the judge did not allow the issue to be raised at trial, she’d also published an essay on her blog entitled “How to Murder Your Husband”.

Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. This episode includes testimony from friend and fellow chef Tania Medlin, Nancy’s cellmate Anndrea Jacobs, and Nancy herself, whose rambling responses did her no favors.

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Episode 174: Romance Novelist Murder Trial
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Episode 173: Riley Crossman Murder Case

This episode contains testimony from the trial of Andy McCauley for the murder of his girlfriend’s 15-year-old daughter, Riley Crossman. The crime took place in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, a small working-class community blighted by Opiods and other drugs. Riley and her boyfriend, Hayden, always stayed in close contact by text and social media, even “sleeping together” at night on Facetime. On the night of May 7, 2019, at 11:01 p.m., Riley was in bed when something disturbing happened. She sent Hayden a text that said, “Andy’s in my room and I’m scared,” but Hayden had fallen asleep.

Riley’s dead body was found May 16 by Tuscarora Pike in Berkeley County, West Virginia. There was drywall compound all over her body and on foliage around her. Several contractor-weight trash bags were also found with the body. Contractor Andy McCauley, 43, a man with several prior felonies, was partner of Riley’s waitress mother Chantel. He denied involvement in the murder, but his alibi for the night of Riley’s death collapsed under scrunity. McCauley was convicted in November 2021 and sentenced to life without parole.

This episode contains trial testimony from Andy’s ex-girlfriend Denise, his mother Brenda, and his nephew, Christopher.

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Episode 173: Riley Crossman Murder Case
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Episode 172: Chandler Halderson Murder Case

This episode contains the long, grueling interrogation of Cat Mellender, 21, the girlfriend of 23-year-old Chandler Halderson. As she testified at trial in January 2022, Cat had always believed that Chandler was a recent college graduate who worked for an insurance company, volunteered as a rescue scuba diver, and was had recently been offered a job in Florida with SpaceX. But when Chandler’s parents, Bart and Krista Halderson, went missing in July 2021, his web of lies came undone.

Chandler had not graduated from college, did not have a job, and was not going to Florida. His father was getting suspicious, and making a lot of phone calls. Chandler knew he was sunk. But instead of confessing, he shot his parents to death, carved up their bodies, tried to burn them in the fireplace, and kept them in the ice chest before dumping them on Cat’s mother’s property. Evidence of the double murder was described during the trial: an eager flock of vultures hovering over the woods, and the smell of what one neighbor assumed was pork on a barbecue.

Chandler Halderson was found guilty of the two murders in March 2022, and was sentenced to life without parole.

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Episode 172: Chandler Halderson Murder Case
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Episode 171: Spray Tan Murder Trial

    In November 2007, Adam Kaufman, a prominent Florida real estate salesman, woke to find his wife Lina, 33, draped by the neck, dead, over a magazine rack by the toilet in the couple’s ritzy waterfront home. There was suspicious bruising on Lina’s neck, although the marriage was apparently untroubled.  A year-and-a-half later, the Miami-Dade County medical examiner ruled Lina’s death a homicide by mechanical strangulation, and Adam was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The defense argued that a spray tan Lina got the day before may have caused her to pass out and slump over that magazine rack, where she was strangled to death by gravity.
Adam Kaufman was acquitted; experts concluded that his wife’s death, although unusual, was most likely caused by a preexisting heart condition. This episode contains testimony from Farrah Corenblum, who had a relationship with Adam after Lina’s death; Melissa Fedowitz and Rina Azulay, Lina’s close friends; Rachel Kaufman, the wife of Adam’s twin brother, Seth, and defense attorney Bill Matthewman, who objects that the prosecution is trying to portray Adam as “a rich Jew who didn’t grieve enough.”

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Episode 171: Spray Tan Murder Trial
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