Benefiel v. State, 84S00-8906-CR-483

CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
Citation578 N.E.2d 338
Docket NumberNo. 84S00-8906-CR-483,84S00-8906-CR-483
PartiesBill J. BENEFIEL, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
Decision Date18 September 1991

Page 338

578 N.E.2d 338
Bill J. BENEFIEL, Appellant,
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 84S00-8906-CR-483.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Sept. 18, 1991.

Page 340

Christopher B. Gambill, Daniel L. Weber, Vigo County Public Defenders, Terre Haute, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

GIVAN, Justice.

A jury trial resulted in the conviction of appellant of Count I, Criminal Confinement, a Class B felony; Count II, Rape, a Class B felony; Count III, Criminal Deviate Conduct, a Class B felony; and Count IV, Murder, a felony. Following a guilty verdict on all counts, the jury recommended the death penalty, and appellant was so sentenced.

The State's case was established largely on the testimony of Alicia Elmore, a surviving victim. On October 10, 1986 at approximately 7:30 p.m., seventeen-year-old Alicia Elmore walked to a gas station two blocks from her home in Terre Haute, Indiana to purchase soft drinks for her mother and brother who were ill. As she returned home, a man wearing a mask and carrying a gun accosted her and asked her for money. When she said she had no money, he grabbed her and forced her to walk down an alley. The assailant then pushed her into a garage where he instructed her not to make any noise or he would shoot her.

The assailant pushed her to the floor and started taking off her clothes. Upon removing her clothing, he tied her up with some of her clothes and wire from a lamp.

Page 341

He stuffed some clothing in her mouth and put her jeans over her head so she could not see. In order to prevent her from moving, he placed two heavy bags on her back. He then left and returned a few moments later, placed her in his van and drove around for a few minutes. He carried her into a house and laid her on a mattress on the floor. Throughout this period, the assailant warned her not to scream and told her that if she did, he would kill her.

Once inside the house, he asked her what her name was and where she lived. He untied her and took photographs of her. During this period, he kept her head covered. He then raped her. During intercourse, he kept a gun against her head and warned her not to scream. He placed a chain around her neck and fastened it to the bed. He also handcuffed her to the side railing of the bed and tied her feet together with a rope. He left for approximately fifteen minutes and upon his return, he informed her that he had gone back to the garage to pick up her clothing and the soft drinks she had dropped. He again forced her to have intercourse in the same manner as he had before. When he tied her up, he put duct tape over her eyes and placed a large wad of toilet paper in her mouth and taped her mouth shut.

The next day he forced her to perform oral sex. Following this, he handcuffed her arms to the railing and handcuffed her ankles together. Later, she determined that it was daylight and attempted to escape by scooting the bed frame toward the doorway. She chewed the tape off of her mouth and began screaming. When she began screaming, the assailant came into the room and threw a blanket over her head. After telling her that she was not supposed to scream, he slapped her, took out a knife and cut her on her back, cut off one of her fingernails, and cut off a portion of her hair. He then warned her not to try to escape again or he would kill her. In addition, he placed the gun to the side of her head and "clicked" it. When he was cutting off her hair, he informed her that he was placing it in a scrapbook with samples of hair from other women he had raped. He then put glue in her eyes so they would be stuck shut. He also placed more tape over her eyes and more toilet paper in her mouth. Later that day, he again forced her to have sexual intercourse.

On October 12, he had intercourse with her twice in the same manner as he had before. He fed her a sandwich which was the first time she had eaten since she had been abducted. During her captivity, Alicia was able to tell the changing of the days by listening to the radio, and up to October 13, she had not slept. Sexual intercourse occurred daily during her captivity with her life always being threatened.

During four months of captivity, Alicia counted being raped a minimum of 64 times. She stopped counting because she was getting confused in trying to keep count of how many days she had been held and the number of times she had been raped. On October 30, the assailant informed her that they were going to have a Halloween party. That night he took a knife and cut the side of her neck and a place on her chest. In addition, he stuck the gun in her vagina and forced her to have anal intercourse.

During the first two months of captivity, Alicia's eyes were glued together and taped. A few times during her early captivity, the assailant would want to see her eyes so he would put his mask on and "pry" open her eyes for only a few moments. She was not allowed to go to the bathroom when she needed to during the first few months and was fed only a baked potato and a glass of water during this time. One time during this period, the assailant made her hold the bullets to the gun and told her that one of the bullets had her name on it. Alicia thought that an escape would be impossible because the assailant told her about his dogs, which she could hear from inside the house. She was not allowed to bathe on her own. A few times throughout this period the assailant gave her a bath. Most of the time she was chained to the bed and was naked. During her captivity, appellant would ask her whether she wanted to die slowly or quickly.

Page 342

Upon responding that she would want to die quickly, he would respond by telling her that her death would be long and painful.

On December 9, 1986, there was a need for Alicia to go to the hospital in Vincennes, Indiana because she was bleeding vaginally. On this occasion, she was able to see her assailant for the first time. He not only took off his mask but also untaped her eyes and unchained her. In order to prevent her from screaming on the way out to the van, he showed her the gun. She noticed the color of the van and the various items in the van including police scanners. On the way to the hospital, he made her drive despite the fact that she barely could see. Upon arriving at the hospital, he again warned her not to say anything or else he would kill everyone. He also informed her that she was to tell hospital personnel that her name was Mary Benefiel and that she was eighteen years old.

Alicia was examined by a doctor and a nurse. Throughout the examination, the assailant was only a few feet away. At one point, the doctor asked her what was wrong with her eyes, but before she could respond, the assailant stated it was because she had been crying so much. At no time did she inform anyone at the hospital because she was afraid he would kill them. Following the examination, the doctor informed Alicia that she was pregnant and not to have sexual intercourse for three weeks. Thereafter, they left the hospital and drove back to the house in Terre Haute. On this occasion, she recognized for the first time that the color of the house was yellow. The address turned out to be 323 South 13 1/2 Street. Upon arriving, he did not retape her eyes and did not wear his mask.

On December 10, appellant had sexual intercourse with Alicia despite the doctor's recommendation. A few weeks later, she was moved to another house. To accomplish this, appellant tied her up and carried her out to the van, drove around for a few minutes and then carried her into the other house. This address turned out to be 322 South 13 1/2 Street, across the street from the first address. The color of the house at 322 was brown. As soon as they entered the house, he chained her to the bed.

Soon after they were in the house at 322, he again forced her to have sexual intercourse as well as oral intercourse. While Alicia was in the house at 322, she heard police scanners which were used by appellant. With these scanners, he was able to find out which houses he could burglarize following some event at those houses. That is, appellant knew the codes used by the police.

On January 26, 1987, Alicia thought that someone else was in the house because she heard noises in the basement. Later, appellant informed Alicia that he in fact did have someone else in the house. On the evening of January 27, 1987, Alicia saw the other individual, Delores Wells, whom she knew. Appellant told Alicia how he captured Delores and what he did with her once he had her.

When Alicia first saw Delores, she was on a water bed in another bedroom. Delores was naked, had handcuffs on her hands, tape over her eyes, paper towels in her mouth, and tape over her mouth. During the time Delores was in the house at 322, Alicia never spoke with her because appellant warned her not to.

On February 4, 1987, appellant told Alicia to come into Delores' room. When she got to the room, she saw Delores laying on the mattress with her hands handcuffed behind her back and her ankles handcuffed together. At that point, he started beating her all over her body with his fists, then he took an electrical cord and started hitting her with it. Later, Alicia saw the injuries to Delores, which included welts on her arms and legs, and her face was black and blue as well as being swollen. On another occasion, appellant cut off all of her hair and cut her finger. Appellant also asked Delores if she wanted to die quickly or slowly to which she responded quickly. Appellant stated that she would die slowly.

On February 7, 1987, appellant left the house for approximately two hours, and when he returned, he had mud from his waist down and had blisters on his palms.

Page 343

He told Alicia that he had been digging a grave which was big enough for two people. At that point, she thought he was going to kill Delores and...

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