KINGMAN - Mohave County Superior Court Judge James Chavez set a trial date of Oct. 23 for Robert Ronald "Bull" Benjamin, with a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 4, when both attorneys will have the chance to summit new motions on disputes that were unresolved at the Aug. 21 hearing.
Benjamin, 43, of Golden Valley faces two Class 1 felony first-degree murder charges, one count of felony theft of means of transportation, one felony count of theft and a felony weapons offense.
Defense attorney Daniel DeRienzo of Prescott argued on Aug. 21 that a videotaped interview by detectives of the Mohave Country Sheriff's Office could not be used as evidence against his client. Benjamin allegedly told detectives during the interview that he committed those crimes and gave detailed descriptions of how he executed the crimes.
After watching the videotape, DeRienzo said his first impression was it was not a typical confession. He said his client was rambling all over the interview room. He showed a lot of emotion, sometimes angry and crying. He changed his story from time to time, and at certain points seemed unable to understand detectives' questions.
DeRienzo suggested that Benjamin might not have been in good mental condition at the time of interrogation, and as a result, the interview should not be used as evidence against his client.
Prosecutor Derek Carlisle argued that Benjamin appeared to understand detectives' questions very well and voluntarily offered his answers. Whenever there were inconsistencies in Benjamin's answers, detectives would remind him to get him back to the ongoing topics.
Detective John Paul, who interviewed Benjamin, appeared at the hearing and answered both attorneys' questions. He said that Benjamin sometimes jumped from topic to topic and did not seem to understand questions very well. But in general, Paul believed Benjamin was in a good mental condition and understood what was going on.
Besides the dispute of the interview, DeRienzo asked the judge to separate Benjamin's murder cases from the theft charges, arguing that the cases are unrelated.
Carlisle suggested Benjamin stole a vehicle while trying to escape after killing the two victims and that the charges are strongly inter-connected and should be tried together.
Chavez upheld the state's argument and will allow those charges to be tried together.
After consulting both attorneys, Chavez reserved four days for Benjamin's trial, with an optional fifth day available.
Benjamin, if found guilty of the two first-degree murder charges, could be sentenced to death, natural life or life, which requires serving at least 25 years in prison.
Mohave County Sheriff's detectives arrested Benjamin on a felony warrant on June 22, 2005, charging him with two counts of homicide.
Kingman Justice Court had issued the warrant for Benjamin charging him with two counts of first-degree murder, and Hoover Dam Police detained Benjamin at the dam as he attempted to cross from Nevada into Arizona. Sheriff's detectives drove to the dam, took Benjamin into custody and returned him to Kingman to be booked into Mohave County Jail.
Benjamin was sought as the prime suspect in the shooting deaths of Andrea Lynn Eklund, 34, and Robert Al Reichenbacker, 44, both of Kingman. The couple were found shot to death in the early morning hours of June 20, 2005, at a residence in the 4500 block of Marilyn Drive.
Witnesses told investigators they had seen Benjamin at the residence prior to the 1:47 a.m. call of gunshots fired that sent deputies and Kingman Police officers to the scene.