Benjamin Bonner looks at defense attorney Harry Gasnick during Bonner’s first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court in May. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Benjamin Bonner looks at defense attorney Harry Gasnick during Bonner’s first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court in May. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Report: Bonner can stand trial in beating death of Sequim-area woman

PORT ANGELES — A medicated Benjamin George Bonner has the capacity to understand the murder charge against him and the ability to assist in his own defense, a mental health report has concluded.

Bonner, 18, of Bainbridge Island is charged for allegedly beating Cynthia Little and her pet dog to death at Little’s Sequim-area residence May 4.

He has yet to be arraigned on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree animal cruelty.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly ordered Bonner to receive involuntary medication to restore his competency Sept. 15.

An Aug. 3 assessment performed at Western State Hospital in Lakewood had said Bonner was not competent to stand trial.

Bonner met diagnostic criteria for unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder and had a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the Aug. 8 report said.

Bonner was re-evaluated Oct. 24 after weeks of taking olanzapine, an 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 defense attorney John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender.

“We therefore recommend that he return to court to resume adjudication of his pending criminal matters,” Dr. Jenna Tomei and pre-doctoral students Celia Arauz and Irina Owen concluded.

In a Friday court hearing, Hayden said he would like to have another doctor review the Oct. 27 report and moved for a two-week continuance, according to the minutes off the hearing.

Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer granted the continuance and reset the review hearing for Nov. 17.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Bonner took his adoptive parents’ SUV without their permission to Little’s Sunland residence and beat the 71-year-old to death with a fireplace poker.

A dog was found lying dead near Little’s body along with the tool that Bonner allegedly used to kill Little before driving her car to Bainbridge Island, Sheriff’s Det. Brian Knutson said in the affidavit for probable cause.

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

Bonner allegedly killed Little one day after being released from a mental health treatment facility for threatening his mother and harming a cat.

He had been treated with pain medication for a dental procedure and had an adjustment to his anti-psychotic medication on or about April 30, court papers said.

After the adjustment, Bonner had mental episodes, heard voices and suffered hallucinations, Knutson wrote in the May 4 arrest report.

Bonner claimed that his best friend was an android, Knutson said.

“He denied having any current beliefs about ‘androids’ and stated, ‘I wasn’t thinking right’ when directly questioned about these thoughts,” the Oct. 27 report said.

“Further, he denied that his previous delusional ideations would have any bearing on his ability to proceed to trial.”

The charges against Bonner carry vulnerable victim, deliberate cruelty and deadly weapon enhancements.

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 [email protected].

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