Closing arguments in the 1st degree murder trial of 45-year-old Leah Benjamin of Buffalo took place Wednesday in 4th Judicial District Court in Johnson County. State Prosecutor Chris Wages began the day recapping the events that occurred during the early morning hours of May 3rd 2009 that resulted in Leah Benjamin fatally shooting her estranged husband Donald Benjamin three times.
Wages pointed to a number of factors that outlined why he felt the shooting was not self defense, the most compelling being testimony that indicated the victim was shot at a distance of between three and four feet. That determination undermines the defense's claim that the first shot was the result of a struggle between the couple. The prosecution closed by saying that Leah Benjamin took the life of a man that was enticed to her home under false pretenses.
Defense Attorney Hardy Tate's closing argument centered on several cell phone conversations between the Benjamin's that showed Donald's aggressive and abusive behavior toward Leah. Tate said that Leah Benjamin was treated like a dog and that four domestic incidents since 2005 was indicative of that treatment.
In his rebuttal, Prosecutor Wages stated that while Donald Benjamin did indeed mistreat his wife, it was by no means a reason to commit 1st degree murder. The jury began their deliberations just before 2 pm. If convicted of murder, Leah Benjamin faces life imprisonment.