Blaine man found guilty of first-degree murder

Anoka County District Court Judge Douglas Meslow determined today (May 20) that a Blaine man could serve a life sentence for the stabbing his girlfriend to death in Coon Rapids in October 2011.

Patrick William Benton

Patrick William Benton

An Anoka County District Court jury May 10 found Patrick William Benton, 55, guilty of first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse. The bloody body of Susan Courteau, 44, was found in her Coon Rapids apartment in the 10300 block of Hanson Boulevard the evening of Oct. 13, 2011 by her sister.

Benton will be sentenced May 29.

The trial started April 15; the jury returned its verdict May 13.

According to the criminal complaint, the apartment manager had been called police the morning of Oct. 13, 2011 because Courteau said Benton was drinking again and scaring her. A Coon Rapids police officer removed Benton from the apartment, cited him for trespassing, drove him to his sister’s home in Coon Rapids, told him not to return to Courteau’s apartment and watched him enter the home.

Benton and Courteau were apparently on the phone later that day because Benton wanted to get personal items from the apartment and he went back there around 2 p.m.

Benton was seen on surveillance videos at Rainbow Foods and then Target at Riverdale. He was seen 6:36 p.m. withdrawing $2,000 in cash from a cash machine inside Rainbow Foods and then 6:54 p.m. purchasing shoes and clothes from Target.

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

The Anoka County SWAT Team and Coon Rapids Police executed a search warrant at the residence of Benton’s sister shortly after 5 a.m. Oct. 14, 2011. Police found a Target bag next to trash bins and inside the bags was a pair of jeans and a shirt. The Anoka County Forensic Lab found the presence of human blood. The clothes matched the clothes police and surveillance cameras saw Benton wearing the day before.

“This is another tragic case of domestic violence, where the defendant’s anger led him to murder an innocent woman,” said Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo. “I express my deepest condolences to Susan Courteau’s family, and I hope the legal process brings some closure for the family.”

Benton’s defense attorney William Ward could not be reached for comment.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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