Today, one day shy of five years since former UC Irvine doctoral student Brian Hughes Benedict gunned down his estranged wife near his campus apartment during a child custody exchange, the 40-year-old was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
He was convicted last month of first-degree murder in the slaying of 30-year-old Rebecca Benedict on Sept. 13, 2009. The couple had been embroiled in a battle over custody and child-support payments involving their then-4-year-old son. On that fateful evening, the mother went to Brian Benedict's Verano Place apartment around 7 p.m. to pick up the boy.
But Benedict was waiting with a hammer, which he swang at her as she ran away from the unit. As she darted across an apartment complex path, Benedict chased her with a gun and then fired several shots, killing her.
He then went back to his apartment, fetched his son and strapped him into a car seat in a vehicle. But witnesses, who feared Benedict would drive away with the child, physically restrained him until police arrived.
"The verdict was right," observed Rebecca's father, Alan Clarke, after the jury convicted her killer, "but our daughter is still dead."