Murder suspect apology alleged; planned not-guilty plea likely to be amended, attorney says

Benjamin Bonner (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Benjamin Bonner (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — Accused murderer Benjamin George Bonner has apologized in a letter to a Clallam County Superior Court judge, court papers allege.

The 18-year-old Bainbridge Island man will consider a guilty plea in the beating death of Cynthia Little, his attorney said Friday.

Bonner is charged with second-degree murder for the May 4 death of Little at her home near Sequim.

The teen also is charged with first-degree animal cruelty for the death of Little’s pet dog and first-degree robbery for allegedly driving Little’s car to his home after the alleged crimes at Little’s Sunland residence.

Bonner was found competent to stand trial in October after being prescribed the anti-psychotic medication olanzapine during a supervised stay at Western State Hospital in Lakewood.

Defense attorney John Hayden requested Friday a one-week continuance for Bonner’s arraignment.

“At this point, we’ll be entering a not-guilty plea,” Hayden told Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer.

“We’ll probably be amending that plea at some point.”

Rohrer granted a one-week continuance for the arraignment.

The judge also granted Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin’s motion to release as evidence a letter that Bonner allegedly wrote to Judge Brian Coughenour.

The unsigned letter, which was addressed from Ben Bonner, was filed in Superior Court on Monday.

“Your honor, I’m sorry for the pain I inflicted on my community,” the letter stated.

“The offense or anything like that will never happen again. I’m truly sorry and in pain over what happened.

“I wanna educate myself and become a cheif [sic], and live in the community peacefully,” the letter continued.

“I can’t tolerate the behavior around Western State Hospital, and I would like to be around more normal people. Please give me another chance.”

Rohrer said it would difficult to schedule Bonner’s trial within 60 days of arraignment because of the number of holidays in December and January. He described the available trial dates as “slim pickings.”

“Realistically, it’s unlikely to go in 60 days,” Hayden said.

“I don’t think that’s a big secret.”

Bonner’s arraignment was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Bonner killed Little and her dog with a fireplace poker after Little confronted him about taking his adoptive parents’ SUV without their permission.

Little, a child advocate who was described in court papers as a “grandmother figure” to Bonner, was 71.

A mental health assessment performed at Western State on Aug. 3 found that Bonner was not competent to stand trial because he met diagnostic criteria for unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder and that he had a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Bonner was re-evaluated Oct. 24 after being ordered to take anti-psychotic medication.

The Oct. 27 report concluded that Bonner showed no symptoms of a mental disease or defect that would impair his ability to understand the charges against him or to assist Hayden in his defense.

The charges against Bonner carry vulnerable victim, deliberate cruelty and deadly weapon enhancements that could lengthen his prison sentence if convicted.

Bonner is being held in the Clallam County jail on $1.5 million bail.

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

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