Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Former Child Star Wanted for Murder and Child Abduction

Posted on: July 9, 2008 at 10:06 a.m.

Defending charges involving a life sentence is challenging, but not impossible. Experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, especially who are former trial prosecutors, often undertake the defense of charges involving murder, manslaughter, and other types of homicide.

Mark Everett, former star of such shows as "Pee Wee's Playhouse" and movies like "Stand and Deliver" is wanted by authorities for killing his live-in girlfriend and abducting their three-year-old son. Everett, whose real name is Manuel Benitez, began to sell drugs after his child acting career tailed off and hid this fact, and other elements of his past, from his then girlfriend. He'd been arrested before on drug charges and on weapon charges, and is now being pursued for these crimes.

When individuals such as this former star compound matters by being arrested for unrelated crimes, it makes the job of the defense attorney that much more difficult. Judges and juries will rarely sympathize with a defendant if he demonstrates no remorse or flaunts an arrogant personality. An aggressive courtroom defense along with the assistance of jury consulting, a thorough defense investigation, and a relentless cross-examination of the state's evidence may lead to a reduced offense or a complete acquittal.

Murder charges in California are covered under the state's Three Strikes laws , if the individual has a prior record, and carry sentences of life in prison or the death penalty if the crime is severe enough. Everett has been on the run for years. He is down but not out. A aggressive courtroom defense may save him a life behind bars, if his criminal lawyers demonstrate that the evidence is insufficient to prove his guilt.

Tagged as: domestic violence pc 273_5, jury trial defense


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Tania Bakar on May 7, 2009 at 9:59 p.m. wrote:

After I had read this blog, I automatically clicked on his name was redirected to the article about him by Fox News. Here I got a much better sense of his past criminal history. It got me to think how hard it must be for defense attorney's to defend someone who not only has been involved in counts of theft, was a past drug dealer, and carrying concealed and loaded weapons in his sons stroller, but now is on trial for brutally killing his wife and abducting their son. This not only seems like a difficult task, it seems almost impossible for me. It made me think, if I were his defense attorney how would I protect him and possibly lessen his sentencing. The first thing that ran through my mind was what the prosecution would argue and how powerful their arguments could be. Looking back to Gerry Spence's book, How to Argue and Win Every Time I automatically thought about how the issue of a life lost can really, if argued correctly, can really have a negative impact on one's case. Spence talks about how when presenting a case to a jury, when it's the matter of a life lost, using the right words getting into the heart zone, and presenting the case well can essentially result in a unforgiving and un-empathetic outcome for the defendant. First, Benito was obviously not clinically insane when he committed all of these crimes, at least there is no evidence or mention that these crimes may have possibly been motivated by mental illness. So how would the defense attorney lessen his sentencing? This blog mentions that the defense attorney would have to conduct an aggressive argument, that would include relentless cross-examinations of the evidence provided by the state. The blog also mentions that juries and judges seem to have no sympathy for a defendant who exhibits an arrogant personality or has no remorse. This made me think back to the Spector case where he was described as having blank stares which exhibited a sense of disconnect with what was going on in the courtroom. Everett also had fled after he murdered his wife, this case presents me with the sense of how difficult it must be for criminal defense attorney's who are presented to defend cases such as these. Following up with the case, I found that in December of 2008 Benito (Everett) took his son hostage and held a gun to his son's head. After the police thew a grenade in the area Benito was located and gun shots between the police and Benito had gone off, officers found that Benito was killed. He never stood in court and was not on trial, but it would have been interesting to have seen what the results of his trial would have been.

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