Ex-Gladstone cop gets life in prison for murder

The sentencing phase for Lynn Benton will start Tuesday in Clackamas County Circuit Court

Former Gladstone Police officer Lynn Benton on the first day of his murder trial, September 14, 2016 (KOIN)
Former Gladstone Police officer Lynn Benton on the first day of his murder trial, September 14, 2016 (KOIN)

OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) – The sentencing phase for Lynn Benton didn’t take long. The ex-Gladstone police officer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the aggravated murder of his wife in 2011.

Benton, 54, accepted a true life sentence, and the state agreed. That meant there was no need for a sentencing hearing.The jury, by law, would have had to consider 3 options: death, life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 30 years.

On Friday, a Clackamas County Circuit Court jury convicted the former Gladstone police officer for killing his wife, Debbie Higbee-Benton.

Benton was part of a group of three people who conspired to have Higbee-Benton killed over Benton’s fear that Higbee-Benton was going to report allegations of domestic abuse. As a career law enforcement officer, the allegations of domestic violence would have jeopardized Benton’s career.

Benton turned to good friend Susan Campbell and her son Jason Jaynes to have Higbee-Benton killed. The plot went down with Campbell allegedly going Higbee-Benton’s beauty salon, shooting her once in the back and then fleeing. Police say that Jaynes went back to the salon – in essence – to finish the job.

The cause of death was determined to be from trauma and strangulation, according to court documents.

Former Gladstone Police Sgt. Lynn Benton in side-by-side file photos the KOIN archives.
Former Gladstone Police Sgt. Lynn Benton in side-by-side file photos the KOIN archives.

Benton’s name surfaced in the investigation when one of Campbell’s friends alerted authorities to his possible involvement after Campbell started talking about her role in the plot. The friend ended up wearing a body wire for police.

The case against Benton relied heavily on witness testimony from individuals already in custody. The defense questioned the witnesses and questioned their credibility.

Benton was a former Gladstone Police Department supervisor. He was born female, but transitioned and identifies as male.