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Son of Pepperdine president pleads not guilty to making threats

August 29, 2012 | 12:17 pm

Christopher BentonThe son of Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton has pleaded not guilty to nearly a half-dozen felony counts, including criminal threats against his father and another family member.

Prosecutors charged Christopher Benton, 27, with five counts, including two counts of making felony criminal threats, and the remainder related to illegally obtaining a weapon or ammunition as an ex-felon. He entered his plea Monday in L.A. County Superior Court.

If convicted on all counts, Benton could face more than than five years in state prison.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were called to the campus a week ago after the younger Benton allegedly made the unspecified threats to his father and mother, Debby.

The deputies took a threat report but Benton was nowhere to be found, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. He returned to campus the following day, when he was detained.

Benton was booked on suspicion of making the criminal threats, as well as being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and in possession of ammunition after investigators found a gun they believe Benton discarded on a nearby hillside and the ammunition in his car, Whitmore said. 

Benton checked into a rehabilitation facility earlier this year after the body of 25-year-old Katie Wilkins was found in her parents’ Malibu garage in April.

Wilkins died of an apparent heroin overdose but detectives wanted to question Benton, who they said was likely the last person to see the graphic designer alive, according to sheriff's investigators.

Surveillance footage showed Benton getting into a car with Wilkins at a McDonald’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway hours before her brother discovered her body.


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-- Andrew Blankstein

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Photo: Christopher Benton. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department.