Bainbridge teen claims insanity, pleads not guilty to killing 71-year-old woman

Benjamin Bonner appears for an earlier court hearing. (KOMO photo)

PORT ANGELES, Wash. - An 18-year-old Bainbridge Island man pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Friday to the murder of a 71-year-old Sequim woman who was like a grandmother to him.

The accused, Benjamin Bonner, is charged with second-degree murder in the case. Clallam County Superior Court documents say he beat his victim, Cynthia Little of Sequim, to death with a fireplace poker on May 3, 2017, as she repeatedly told him, "I love you."

The Clallam County Prosecutor's Office says Bonner now will be sent to Western State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Bonner last month wrote a letter to the court apologizing for the pain he inflicted on the community and said he's "in pain over what happened."

Little was a child advocate who had let Bonner spend the night at her home on May 3 after he took the family car and drove there.

Court documents say he killed her after she confronted him about taking his adoptive parents' car without their permission. As Little was being beaten to death, she told her attacker over and over again, "I love you," court documents say.

Court files portray Bonner as mentally troubled. Bainbridge High School had suspended him for behavioral problems, court documents say.

He had received pain medicines for dental work and a change in his anti-psychotic medication on April 30. After that, he began to hear voices and experience hallucinations.

On May 2, he threatened his mother with a pencil, telling her she wasn't his real mother, court documents say. The woman and her husband had adopted their son from Russia when he was 1 year old.

He was taken to a facility for a psychological assessment. After his release, he took the family car and drove to Little's home, according to the court file.

He told police he hit her 15 times with the fireplace poker, court documents say. The teen tried to strangle her dog, then beat it to death, court documents say.

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