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Pepperdine president's son admits threatening father, faces prison

September 7, 2012 |  3:12 pm

Christopher BentonThe son of Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton pleaded no contest Friday to making criminal threats against his father and possessing a firearm and will be sentenced to two years in prison, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Friday.

Christopher Andrew Benton enter his plea as a preliminary hearing was about to get underway. He will be sentenced by Judge Karen Nudell when he returns to court Sept. 21, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Rena Durrant.

Benton admitted threatening his father at the family’s home on the Malibu campus on Aug. 22 during a family argument.

He returned to campus the next day and was arrested and charged with five felony counts, including possession of a firearm by a narcotic addict. The prosecutor said the remaining three counts will be dismissed when he is sentenced. He could have faced five years in prison.

Benton, who has three prior felony convictions, remains in custody.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were called to the campus after the younger Benton allegedly made the 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 next 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 believe Benton 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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Photo: Christopher Benton. Credit: L.A. County Sheriff's Department.