A former UC Irvine graduate student faces life in prison after being convicted of murdering his ex-wife outside of his campus apartment in what authorities said stemmed from a dispute over child-support payments.
Brian Hughes Benedict, 40 — a graduate of Cate School, a private high school and boarding school in Carpinteria — was found guilty by a jury on Aug. 7 of murder for financial gain and lying in wait with an enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
On the evening of Sept. 13, 2009, Benedict's ex-wife, Rebecca Clarke, 30, had gone to pick up her 4-year-old son from Benedict at his campus apartment.
"The couple recently attended a court hearing where the defendant had been ordered to pay child support," the statement said, adding that after the victim entered Benedict's apartment, the defendant attacked Clarke by swinging a hammer at her head.
Clarke ran from the apartment, but Benedict chased her with a firearm and shot her several times, the office stated, and that Benedict then went back into his apartment, grabbed his son and put the boy in the car.
"Witnesses and neighbors, who feared the defendant was going to flee the scene with his son, physically restrained Brian Benedict until police arrived," the statement said.
Benedict faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 12 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.