OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — Opening statements finally began from both prosecutors and the defense in the case against former Gladstone Police officer Lynn Benton, accused of 8 crimes related to the murder of his wife in 2011.
Debbie Higbee-Benton was killed in the Gladstone salon she owned, and authorities say Benton conspired with 2 other people — Susan Campbell and her son Jason Jaynes — to kill her.
Detectives claim his motive was to protect his career from allegations Debbie was going to make about domestic violence.
Prosecutors told the jury they will use a jailhouse informant to prove Benton’s guilt. Travis Layman was in the same cell block as Benton after the murder and Layman told investigators Benton revealed his involvement in the conspiracy and murder.
The prosecutor said Layman learned of the plan, the plot, the rationale and the killing, who did it and how it was done.
“Sgt. Benton told Travis Layman almost everything that I shared with you. He outlined to Travis Layman the plan, the plot, the rationale and the killing of Debbie Higbee. [He said] why he wanted Debbie Higbee dead, who he wanted to do it [and] how they did it,” said John Wentworth, Clackamas County district attorney.
But Benton’s defense attorney called this case a conclusion looking for evidence. The prosecution, he said, has no evidence that is credible, reliable or trustworthy.
“Mr. Wentworth talks about evidence. I’m gonna talk about credible, reliable, trustworthy evidence, and they don’t have any. You wont hear that in their case,” said defense attorney Patrick Sweeney.
Sweeney said he will prove that investigators mishandled the case from the very start when Higbee-Benton’s death was initially ruled a heart attack. He also called the case “a conclusion looking for evidence.”
The medical examiner later said she had been shot and strangled.
Benton was born female but transitioned and identifies as male.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.