Benjamin Bonner approaches defense attorney Harry Gasnick during Bonner’s first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court earlier this month on charges of second-degree murder, animal curelty and theft of a motor vehicle. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Benjamin Bonner approaches defense attorney Harry Gasnick during Bonner’s first appearance in Clallam County Superior Court earlier this month on charges of second-degree murder, animal curelty and theft of a motor vehicle. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Competency exam ordered for student charged with killing Sequim woman

PORT ANGELES — A Bainbridge High School student charged with second-degree murder will be examined to see if he is competent to enter a plea in connection with the brutal May 4 death of Sequim-area resident Cynthia Little, a family friend and children’s advocate.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer on Friday delayed until 9 a.m. June 2 the arraignment of Benjamin G. Bonner, 18, to determine whether Bonner is competent to enter pleas to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery, as well as a charge of animal cruelty in the death of Little’s dog, Jack.

“We are endeavoring to have Mr. Bonner examined by a medical professional,” John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender, representing Bonner, told Rohrer.

“I already was examined by a medical professional,” Bonner said to Hayden while sitting shackled in the courtroom.

The charges against Bonner connected to his alleged murder of Little, a longtime friend of Bonner’s mother, were enhanced — made more serious from a sentencing standpoint — with special allegations against Bonner.

They included Bonner allegedly being armed with a deadly weapon other than a firearm — a fireplace poker at Little’s residence.

Little also “was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance,” and Bonner killed her with “deliberate cruelty,” according to the enhanced charges.

The murder and robbery charges are each punishable by life in prison, while the animal cruelty charge is punishable by five years in prison.

The sentences would be contingent on various factors including Bonner’s record.

Bonner is being held on $1.5 million bond in the Clallam County jail for allegedly killing Little, a longtime volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates, in her Sunland home after taking his parents’ SUV without their permission and driving from Bainbridge Island to Sequim.

Bonner, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also was believed to be paranoid-schizophrenic when his anti-psychotic medication was adjusted around April 30, according to a probable-cause statement, which said he heard voices and hallucinated.

A day before Little’s death, Bonner was released from a mental facility, where he had been placed after threatening his adoptive mother, whom he claimed was not his mother, with a pencil and allegedly abusing the family cat.

“Benjamin recently claimed that his best friend was an android,” according to the probable-cause statement.

Bonner told authorities he hit Little after she “tried to attack him by grabbing at him; which he demonstrated as a hugging motion,” according to the statement.

“Benjamin retrieved a fireplace poker near the fireplace and struck Cynthia in self-defense.

“Cynthia went down, initially, but then got back up saying ‘I love you’ over and over,” according to the statement.

“Benjamin estimated that he struck Cynthia about 15 times with the fire poker.”

He then allegedly attacked and killed her dog, Jack, before taking Little’s car back to Bainbridge Island after he couldn’t find the keys to his parents’ car, which Little had taken, according to the statement.

He was arrested without incident at his parents’ home shortly after returning to Bainbridge Island.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].