Attorney seeks psychological evaluation

KINGMAN ­ In arguments Wednesday for a motion requesting a psychological examination for Robert Ronald "Bull" Benjamin, defense attorney Daniel DeRienzo of Prescott Valley and the Mohave County Public Defenders Office expressed concern over whether or not Benjamin is fit to assist in his own defense.

According to DeRienzo, Benjamin, who is currently in custody on two counts of first-degree murder in relation to the shooting deaths of Andrea Lynn Eklund, 34, and Robert Al Reichenbacker, 44, has been suffering from severe depression and suicidal tendencies. DeRienzo also said Benjamin is experiencing memory lapses in relation to the night in question.

He said he has a hard time getting Benjamin to concentrate during conversations. The defense felt at least a prescreening would be called for to determine if Benjamin is fit for trial.

Prosecuting attorney Derek Carlisle of the Mohave County Attorney's Office responded, saying that it would make sense for Benjamin to be depressed given his current status in jail and facing two homicide charges. He added that he thought there was insufficient evidence provided by the defense to warrant a psychological screening.

Superior Court Judge James Chavez said he would take the matter under advisement and would respond at a later date.

DeRienzo addressed three other motions at Wednesday's case management conference. The first was for reconsideration of the salary for the investigator hired by the defense. Chavez granted the requested amount on the condition that travel expenses and travel time would not be paid for.

The remaining two motions regarded Benjamin's physical condition. According to DeRienzo, Benjamin has several gunshot wounds on or around his abdomen, seemingly made by birdshot pellets. DeRienzo stated that these wounds are proof that Benjamin's side of the story is accurate in depicting that he fired his gun in self-defense.

DeRienzo was requesting emergency medical care and evidence preservation.

While some of the pellets had already fallen out of the wounds in the shower, DeRienzo wanted a physician to take an x-ray to make sure there were no more. He also said the pellets were essential evidence in his case and needed to be preserved.

DeRienzo said that it was imperative that medical attention be sought as soon as possible due to several of the wounds already healing, thereby destroying evidence. He said they have tried several times to have someone at the jail examine Benjamin with no luck.

Carlisle said that if a release of medical records was needed, the defendant should sign a waiver instead of requesting a court order. He also mentioned that this was the first time he had heard of self-defense or needing emergency medical attention.

Chavez scheduled an omnibus hearing at 10 a.m. Monday to hear further arguments for or against these two motions.