Benesch's murder trial to be postponed again as defense argues over statement, victim monument

 

Edward Joseph Benesch II
Edward Joseph Benesch II

Edward Joseph Benesch II’s trial for the death of his girlfriend’s 18-month-old daughter will be postponed again as his defense attorney says he’s not fully prepared. The 27-year-old Benesch is scheduled to stand trial Monday on two counts of felony murder and one count each of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect for the March 2013 death of Somarah Smith. Instead, Judge Larry Wallace will hear arguments on more pretrial motions and schedule a new date for Benesch’s trial on Monday. “I don’t think we’re going to be ready,” defense attorney Olin Baker told Wallace Wednesday in Dickson County Circuit Court. Baker said he has just recently learned there are more photographs from the investigation that have not been provided to the defense. Assistant District Attorney Carey Thompson said the prosecution is ready to proceed with the trial Monday but he doesn’t want to have to try it twice, should a new trial be ordered because of evidence not provided to the defense. In court Tuesday, Baker argued a motion that the Dickson County victims of murder monument outside the courthouse could prejudice jurors during the trial that was scheduled to last all next week with a sequestered jury. Wallace said he would not go so far as to order the monument be covered but said the jurors could be taken to and from the courthouse without passing the monument. While a part of a statement Benesch made to police has already been ruled inadmissible, the defense and prosecution are now in disagreement on exactly to what point a video of the statement can be shown to the jury. Wallace said he wants the defendant present in court for the arguments on the motion and Baker said he has talked with the sheriff’s office about moving Benesch from the Williamson County Jail to Charlotte. Wallace said he would hear the remaining arguments on pretrial motions and set a new trial date on Monday. Smith was left in Benesch’s care while the child’s biological parents were in jail. Benesch claims he was drunk when he tripped over a cat and fell while carrying the child. He took her to a relative’s home the next day and it was discovered the child was not breathing. During a preliminary hearing, there was testimony by TBI Agent Mike Breedlove that a witness saw Benesch punch the child in a mobile home he was renting at the time on Rocky Drive in west Dickson County. Thompson has filed notice that he will seek life without parole if Benesch is convicted.