The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld West Bloomfield Township resident Ellery Bennett’s sentence of life in prison without parole for the 2010 stabbing death of his wife.
The sentence was originally handed down by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Nanci Grant on March 9, after a jury previously found Bennett guilty of the charge of first-degree murder.
The body of Bennett’s 46-year-old wife, Lisa, was discovered in their home in the 7100 block of South Oak Court East on Aug. 18, 2010.
West Bloomfield Township police were dispatched to the home after Ellery Bennett, 49, checked into Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak with stab wounds and told hospital staff that a victim could be found in the family home.
Sergeant Bob Spencer of the West Bloomfield Township Police Department said Ellery Bennett had left notes at the scene of the crime detailing the couple’s financial and marital problems, and that Lisa Bennett had filed for divorce.
According to the unpublished report of the Court of Appeals’ opinion, dated Sept. 25, Bennett and his defense argued that the evidence provided was insufficient to support his conviction.
However, the court stated that Bennett suggested that the jury’s verdict was against the great weight of the evidence, but he did not preserve the argument by asking for a new trial.
The court also rejected claims by Bennett that his actions were in self-defense because the evidence contradicted his claims and Bennett made conflicting statements when he originally told police that he struck Lisa when they were both standing by a bed and she fell onto it.
When his statement was debunked by an evidence technician, Bennett then changed his story and said that he and Lisa were both on the bed when he stabbed her.
The Court of Appeals also ruled that Bennett admittedly tried to commit suicide by cutting himself after he stabbed Lisa, which is further evidence of consciousness of guilt.
The court additionally rejected Bennett’s claim that the prosecutor of his trial improperly appealed to the jury’s sympathy for the victim during the opening statement and closing argument.
Bennett also argued that his right to a public trial was violated when some of his relatives were excluded from the courtroom during jury voir dire, a claim that was also rejected by the appeals court.