Judge turns down defense motions in Coon Rapids murder case

An Anoka County District Court judge had denied two motions brought by the defense attorney for a man indicted by an Anoka County grand jury in the stabbing death of a Coon Rapids woman Oct. 13, 2011.

Patrick William Benton, 54, no permanent address, was indicted by a grand jury Nov. 30, 2011 on premeditated first-degree murder and first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse in the death of Susan Marie Courteau, 44.

Benton is due back in court July 2 for a pre-trial hearing. A trial date has been set for Sept. 10. He remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Defense attorney Shawn Webb filed motions to dismiss the second indictment as well as to suppress Benton’s statements to investigators because of Miranda violations.

According to Webb’s motion, the evidence, including reliable hearsay, was inadequate to support a finding of probable cause in the first-degree murder indictment while committing domestic abuse with a past pattern of domestic abuse.

In seeking suppression of statements made by Benton, Webb argued in court documents that the statements were not given voluntarily because Benton was intoxicated.

But Judge Douglas Meslow rejected both motions.According to court documents, Meslow ruled that the prosecution had provided evidence of past domestic abuse charges filed against by Benton for assaulting a former girlfriend as well as a male roommate.

Webb had argued that those charges were inadmissible as evidence in the murder case, but Meslow wrote in his findings of fact denying the motion that his ruling was based on probable cause for the indictment, not whether the charges were admissible as evidence.

On the motion to suppress Benton’s statements to investigators, Meslow wrote that both sides had stipulated that Benton was given the Miranda warning and waived his rights, and there was no evidence that he was intoxicated when he did so.

Coon Rapids Police were called to an apartment on the 10300 block of Hanson Boulevard about 8:25 p.m. Oct. 13, 2011 by Courteau’s sister, who had gone to check on the welfare of Courteau because she was having problems with her boyfriend, Benton, and he was coming over to retrieve items that afternoon.

The sister had not heard from Courteau since a phone call at 5 p.m. that evening.

Arriving at the apartment, the sister received no response from knocking on the door, so she looked under the door and could not see her sister’s feet moving, said Cmdr. Paul Sommer, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

She went to get the caretaker to open the door and when they went inside, they found Courteau lying on the floor covered in blood.

Police were called, pronounced Courteau dead at the scene and found what appeared to be blood in typical blood spatter patterns cast off from an item with blood on it as well as blood smeared on the shower curtain, according to the complaint.

Police had been called to Courteau’s apartment Oct. 13, 2011, around 8:30 a.m. by the apartment manager after she had asked the manager for assistance because Benton, who had been staying with her on and off, was again drinking and scaring her, the complaint alleges.

An officer removed Benton from the apartment, cited him for trespassing, drove him to his sister’s residence in Coon Rapids, told him not to return to Courteau’s apartment and watched him enter the home.

But according to the complaint, Benton and Courteau were on the phone during the day because Benton wanted to get personal items from her apartment.

Benton allegedly went back to the apartment about 2 p.m. and was seen by multiple neighbors outside on the deck between 3 and 3:15 p.m.

At 6:36 p.m., Benton was allegedly seen on video surveillance making a cash machine withdrawal of $2,000 inside the Rainbow Foods store at Riverdale, about two miles from Courteau’s apartment.

Then at 6:54 p.m. Benton was allegedly captured on video surveillance inside the Target store next to Rainbow, purchasing shoes and clothing items.

At 7:30 p.m. he was back at his sister’s home, a mile or two from the Target store, where a relative alleged Benton was acting oddly, changing clothes under a pine tree and was in possession of a Target bag.

Shortly after 5 a.m. Oct. 14, 2011, the Anoka County SWAT Team and Coon Rapids Police executed a search warrant at the residence of Benton’s sister on the 4100 block of 119th Avenue N.W., Coon Rapids, where Benton was arrested without incident.

He appeared intoxicated, but allegedly displayed no injuries consistent with him having been assaulted himself or recently bleeding.

At the sister’s home, police located a Target bag next to trash bins and inside the bag was a pair of jeans and a shirt.

Both were tested by the Anoka County Forensic Lab and allegedly presumptively tested positive for the presence of human blood.

Those clothes allegedly matched the clothes Benton was wearing when he had contact with police the morning of Oct. 13, 2011, and when he was seen on video surveillance at Target following Courteau’s last contact with her family.

The bag also allegedly contained receipts and tags from the newly purchased clothes from Target.

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