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Manslaughter charge to be sought against Pepperdine president's son

March 8, 2013 | 11:59 am

Los Angeles County investigators plan to pursue a felony manslaughter charge against the son of Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton for his alleged involvement in a Malibu woman's fatal heroin overdose.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed Friday the homicide bureau will recommend that Christopher Benton be charged with involuntary manslaughter and taking a vehicle without an owner's consent. It was not known when the recommendation would be presented to the district attorney.

The charges stem from the April 2012 death of Katie Wilkins, a 25-year-old graphic designer whose body was found in her parents' Malibu garage. Wilkins died of an apparent heroin overdose, and detectives believe Benton was likely the last person to see her alive.

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. Her car was found two weeks later in Woodland Hills.

The Malibu Times obtained  a statement Det. Tim O'Quinn sent to Wilkins' family, in which he outlined Benton's alleged acts the night Wilkins died, saying he "took on a responsibility for Katie, if not directly for her incapacitation, then certainly for leaving her in an incapacitated condition when help could have easily been sought.

"He absolutely knew what the end result was most likely to be when he left Katie incapacitated and alone on the garage floor, with a telephone only a few feet away," O'Quinn wrote. "In my opinion, this is where Chris became criminally culpable for Katie's death."

In September, Christopher Benton was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest to making criminal threats against his parents at the family's home on the Pepperdine campus. Benton, who had three prior felony convictions at the time, pleaded no contest to possessing a firearm.


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