Court orders involuntary medication for accused murderer

Benjamin Bonner

PORT ANGELES — Accused murderer Benjamin George Bonner will receive involuntary medication to restore his competency to stand trial for the death of a 71-year-old Sequim woman, a Clallam County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Bonner, 18, of Bainbridge Island, is charged in the May 4 death of Cynthia Little and her pet dog.

He had not yet been arraigned on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree animal cruelty.

After a 90-minute court hearing Thursday, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly ordered Bonner to receive medication from the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Bonner, who is being held at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, has been found incompetent to stand trial because of a mental illness. He has refused to take medication that could restore his competency, court papers said.

An Aug. 3 competency assessment performed at Western State said Bonner met diagnostic criteria for unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder and had a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Bonner refused to be interviewed for that assessment.

The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office requested a Sell hearing to compel the involuntary administration of an anti-psychotic medication to restore Bonner’s competency.

In Sell v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court set limitations on lower courts to order the forcible administration of anti-psychotic medication to incompetent defendants.

Based on testimony and arguments from the Sell hearing, Melly found that:

• An important government interest was at stake in requiring Bonner to be forcibly medicated.

• Involuntary medication would significantly further the state’s interests.

• The medication was substantially likely to render Bonner competent to stand trial and unlikely to interfere with his ability to assist in his own defense.

• The drugs were medically necessary, less intrusive treatments were unlikely to achieve the same results and the administration of the medication was medically appropriate.

The progress of Bonner’s mental health capacity will be reviewed in a Nov. 3 court hearing.

Bonner allegedly took his adoptive parents’ SUV without their permission to Little’s home in Sunland and beat her to death with a fireplace poker.

Little, who was described in court papers as a family friend of Bonner’s, was found lying face down amid blood and blood spatter, Clallam County Sheriff’s Detective Brian Knutson said in the affidavit for probable cause.

A dog was found lying dead near the body along with the fire poker that Bonner allegedly used to kill Little before driving her car to Bainbridge Island, Knutson said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula

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