Friday, August 10, 2012

Benny Chaffin

Benny Lee Chaffin
The complete details of the sordid events that occurred from approximately 9 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 1984 until very early the following Sunday morning between a young girl and a violent offender bent on sex and murder will probably never be entirely known. Instead, the complete details will likely remain locked inside the sick, perverted mind of the child-killer who stole a young innocent life not only from the victim but from those who loved and cared for her dearly. Some of the details are probably better left untold, to spare the victim’s relatives, as well as the ill-at-ease, from any more shock, pain and sorrow than is necessary to tell the tale. But here are the sad, shocking and often revolting facts of the case as they are known, details of which will likely disturb even the most callous types.
By December 7th the once splendid autumn colors had vanished, and the once colorful trees were now but mere skeletons. Darkness comes early at this time of the year in the Pacific Northwest, and the chilly rain seems as if it never ceases. The weather was, understanda­bly, quite a drastic change for pretty 9-­year-old Glenda Catelina Pineda and her family, who had moved to Springfield, Oregon from sunny, arid Arizona a few months earlier. The weather, being what it was, dictated that Glenda dress in a warm pair of pants, shirt, shoes and a warm hooded coat when she was sent on an errand to a nearby store early that rainy evening in wintertime.
It was just shortly past 8 p.m. when the third-grader left the small, one-room unit of a residential motel she shared with her parents on Main Street and headed for the store that was only three blocks west of the motel. As stated earli­er, Glenda was pretty, and she looked older than she really was, often catching lustful male eves. But like most children her age, Glenda was still immature emo­tionally, and naturally was still trustful of most people with whom she came into contact, a fact which possibly played a part in getting her killed.
As the little girl walked briskly down Main Street toward the store she passed another small residential motel, much like the one she lived in. It isn’t known for certain whether she noticed the man with the straight, greasy brown hair who was watching her with hate-filled, sadis­tic eves. If she had noticed him she hadn’t let it bother her, as she went on to the store and did her shopping. Half an hour later she retraced her original steps, this time pushing a shopping cart filled with the items she had been sent to pur­chase.
Glenda should have reached her home within five minutes after leaving the store, but she didn’t. In fact, she didn’t make it home at all, and for the next 30 hours while a frantic search was conduct­ed by her parents and the police, no one could even faintly imagine the unspeaka­ble horrors to which she was subjected that would ultimately leave her dead.
When Glenda failed to return home after a reasonable time, her parents natu­rally began to worry. By nine o’clock and with still no sign of their daugh­ter, Glenda’s parents traced the possible routes to the store in a near-frantic search for her. However, there was no sign of the young girl, and by 11 p.m., horror had overwhelmed the worried parents.
Had she been involved in an accident, possibly a hit-and-run? Had she been kidnapped? Or had Glenda become yet another victim of child sexual abuse? It was a serious, growing problem that seems to be engulfing the nation, but could it have happened to their child? Glenda’s frantic parents tried to put those unmentionable thoughts far out of their minds, but as each minute ticked by with still no sign of their missing daughter, the distressing thoughts kept creeping back into their consciousness.
In a near panic, Glenda’s father called the Springfield Police Department and reported his daughter as missing. Nor­mally, police require that a person be missing 72 hours or more before a report is filed, but due to the girl’s age and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her failure to return home, the depart­ment was more than happy to assist. After all, everyone’s primary concern at this point was to find the girl alive and, hope­fully, unharmed.
Upon their arrival at the motel on Main Street, the friendly Springfield officers were quickly filled in on the details of what had so far occurred. The emotional, distraught parents also supplied the offi­cers with a recent photograph of Glenda, taken earlier that fall at the Brattain Ele­mentary School she attended. The par­ents provided the officers with a descrip­tion of the girl’s clothing, and told them that Glenda had left for the store at approximately 8 p.m. that night.
Not wasting any time the police offi­cers, along with Glenda’s parents, began an intensive, methodical search of a 10-­square-block area of the neighborhood. As they walked through the darkened streets they called out Glenda’s name, stopped frequently to make inquiries with area residents and knocked on the doors of the units of all the motels in the area, questioning everyone who an­swered. But much to their dismay, no­body reported having seen Glenda, and the parents returned to their motel unit to await any news that might come from the police.
It proved to be a sleepless night. At one point, police officers returned to the motel unit to report that they’d found a shopping cart that contained several items, and requested that Glenda’s par­ents look at the contents. When they looked inside the sacks, they grimly con­firmed that the items found by police were the same ones Glenda had been sent to purchase earlier that evening.
Early the next day, police again can­vassed the entire neighborhood in their­ quest for clues to Glenda’s whereabouts, but by late afternoon they had uncovered no useful information and could only re­port to the worried girl’s parents that no progress had been made in locating young Glenda. With no new clues to the child’s whereabouts, the lawmen felt they were still at square one, valid feel­ings considering the fact that they had no idea where the girl was, no unidentified bodies, no witnesses to an abduction and no suspects to zero in on.
Kidnapping for ransom was quickly ruled out, as no money demands were made in the hours following Glenda’s sudden and mysterious disappearance. And there was no reason to believe that ransom demands would be made, as Glenda’s parents certainly were not wealthy. Although her father was look­ing for a forestry job and her mother was looking for a job as a switchboard opera­tor or in food service, both parents were working at part-time jobs in order to make ends meet. So with kidnapping for ransom virtually ruled out, where was the girl? She had no history of running away, and it wasn’t likely she would venture out for a prolonged time without telling her folks where she was going. Had she been abducted and raped? Or even worse, had she been murdered? As the day wore on with still no sign of the girl, it became more and more likely that she had met with some form of foul play, and by the end of the day nearly everyone closely associated with the case expressed feelings that it wasn’t likely that Glenda Pineda would turn up alive.
Before Saturday, December 8th, was over, police officers combed the Spring­field neighborhood again in search of clues and witnesses. The police search team even brought in a dog from the department’s K-9 unit, according to Springfield Police Sergeant Donald Er­ickson, all to no avail. There simply was no trace of the girl, said Erickson.
No progress was made in the case until early Sunday, at 1:50 a.m., when a duty officer at the Springfield Police Depart­ment received a call from a person identi­fied only as a “source known to law enforcement” who reported finding a body of a young girl in a grassy area behind a residential motel on Main Street. Police officers were immediately dispatched to investigate the situation.
When the officers arrived at-the motel, located near the motel where Glenda Pineda had lived, they made their way through the near total darkness with the aid of their flashlights to the grassy area just behind the motel where they found the girl’s body precisely where they were told it would be, lying sprawled near two discarded tires that were propped against the rear cement block wall of the motel.
The officers examined the girl’s body for any signs of life, but it was quickly determined that she was dead. Although her face was badly swollen and blue in color, the lawmen recognized it as Glen­da Pineda from the school photograph supplied to them by her family. They sadly called in their grim findings to headquarters and were instructed to se­cure the area as a crime site, and were assured that the appropriate officials would be called at home and sent there immediately while another officer was dispatched to inform Glenda Pineda’s family that their daughter’s body had been found — an unenviable task.
A short time later, a team of homicide detectives from the Springfield Police Department arrived, as did a deputy dis­trict attorney, a deputy medical examin­er, police photographers and a team of technicians from the Eugene office of the Oregon State Police Crime Lab. Each carefully examined the girl’s body after it had been outlined with a thin, light-col­ored ribbon that was pinned to the ground to hold it in place and, after pictures were taken, it was removed to the Lane County morgue where a definitive autopsy would be performed by Dr. Ed Wilson, a deputy state medical examiner.
Police officials initially declined to release any details surrounding the discovery of the girl’s body or how she had been killed, and refused to deny or con­firm whether the girl had been sexually assaulted. Lieutenant Richard Golden of the Springfield Police Department said that detectives were still utilizing the in­formation obtained from the body-loca­tion report as well as from additional leads and evidence. However, Golden would not elaborate, and he would not identify the person who reported the body’s location.
“At this point,” said Golden, “we’re taking the position that to release any further information about the autopsy re­sults would be detrimental to the investi­gation.” It was revealed, however, that Glenda Pineda’s body had been found in an area that had previously been searched with no success, a fact which prompted the investigators to theorize that the body had been dumped at the location late Saturday night, December 8th, or early Sunday morning, December 9th, after the search efforts had been called off.
In the hours that followed, investi­gators revealed that numerous hairs and various fibers were recovered from the girl’s body which, of course, can he used as significant evidence if they can be linked to a suspect with hairs and cloth­ing fibers of similar characteristics. It was also revealed that the detectives had reason to believe that Glenda Pineda had been killed at a different location, after which her body had been dumped behind the motel.
Following the evidence report, Dr. Wilson revealed that Glenda Pineda had died of asphyxiation as a result of stran­gulation, both manual and with a liga­ture. Dr. Wilson said that swelling and discoloration around the girl’s face indi­cated that she had been beaten repeatedly over a long period of time. Wilson said that tests performed to determine wheth­er or not the girl had been raped had turned out positive, and there was addi­tional evidence that she had been sexual­ly penetrated with a foreign object. Wil­son did not reveal what he thought the foreign object might have been, nor did he say where it had been inserted ana­tomically.
Oregon State Police Investigator John Painter said that he had obtained a series of identifiable fingerprints from the shopping cart Glenda Pineda had used on the evening of her death, many of which did not belong to the girl but could prove extremely valuable in placing a suspect in contact with the victim when and if the investigators had a suspect to zero in on whose prints matched those found on the shopping cart Glenda had used.
Meanwhile, detectives began knock­ing on the doors to the units of the motel behind which Glenda’s body had been discovered. They questioned most of the residents, including 32-year-old Benny Lee Chaffin, but no one reported any suspicious circumstances as having oc­curred on the night Glenda disappeared or in the hours that followed.
Later Sunday afternoon, December 9th, police for the first time revealed that Benny Lee Chaffin was the person who reported finding Glenda’s body behind the motel, approximately 30 feet from the unit he had occupied for the past several months. Chaffin voluntarily spent most of that Sunday with detec­tives, much of which time was spent at a nearby cafe where they drank coffee as they posed questions to Chaffin. Chaf­fin, police said, had given the authorities permission to search his motel unit, which took most of that afternoon.
“We were with Chaffin from the early morning hours throughout Sunday be­cause he was our only witness,” said Lieutenant Golden. “He found the body.”
While investigators were busy collect­ing trace evidence at Chaffin’s apartment for analysis, Springfield detectives did a thorough background check on their “witness.” The information they learned soon prompted the lawmen to focus on him as a possible suspect.
The detectives soon learned that Chaf­fin had been released from the Texas State Prison at Huntsville on August 26, 1982 after serving five years of a ten-year sentence for murder. Chaffin, it turned out, had been convicted of the July, 1977 knife-stabbing of 54-year-old William Ralph Smith during a robbery in which $40 had taken. Smith’s body had sustained 35 stab wounds.
According to Michael Roach of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Chaffin’s release, without conditions of parole supervision, was “automatic” af­ter Chaffin had accumulated enough “good time” in prison.
Additional background information revealed that Chaffin had served time in a reformatory following a conviction in juvenile court on charges that he at­tempted to rape and rob a 16-year-old Texas girl. He also had a history of drunkenness and violent outbursts, one in which he allegedly attempted to stab his stepfather.
It was revealed later that during initial interviews with police Chaffin told the investigators that he found the girl’s body behind the motel after he watched three men from his motel room window dispose of what appeared to be a body. It was during these interviews that Chaffin changed his story several times, resulting in inconsistent statements. Although by now Chaffin was their prime suspect in the death of Glenda Pineda, he was not arrested until additional evidence could be found linking him to the crime. For the moment, they continued to treat him as a witness, obviously convinced that if they gave him enough rope he would hang himself.
Several articles of Glenda Pineda’s clothing were missing and, in spite of an intensive search, had not yet been recovered, items which could prove to be vital pieces of evidence for the investigators.
However, after recalling that Chaffin had told them he had been to a nearby laundromat during the time that Glenda Pineda was missing, detectives checked out the facility and found what they had been looking for.
“We knew his activities placed him at the laundromat at a certain time,” said Lieutenant Golden after the discovery of the girl’s clothing. “That’s when we really started thinking this person may not be the Good Samaritan he says he is.”
A short time later, Investigator Painter confirmed that several fingerprints lifted from the shopping cart used by Glenda Pineda on the evening she disappeared belonged to Chaffin. “I can positively say they’re the (suspect’s),” he stated.
Additional evidence was uncovered by James 0. Pex, an Oregon State Police criminalist, who confirmed that several items he recovered linked Chaffin to the victim. Among the items recovered was the victim’s semen-stained T-shirt, which he said would be submitted to additional comparative analysis.
Because of the inconsistent statements made by Chaffin, the fingerprints found on the shopping cart and the trace evidence recovered from his apartment, Springfield detectives arrested him and charged him with aggravated murder in connection with the strangulation death of Glenda Pineda. Chaffin was also charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and two other sex crimes, including sexual penetration with a foreign object. Douglas Harcler­oad Lane County District Attorney, said that if Chaffin was convicted of the aggravated murder charge which accused him of “intentional maiming and tor­ture,” he would seek Oregon’s newly enacted death penalty. It should be point­ed out that for a jury to mete out the death penalty under Oregon’s new statute it must decide that the convicted person acted deliberately, that the attack was unprovoked and that the person convict­ed would present a continuing threat to society.
At his arraignment on Tuesday, Janu­ary 8, 1985, Benny Lee Chaffin pleaded innocent to all of the charges. Lane County Circuit Court Judge Douglas R. Spencer assigned Eugene attorney Mi­chael Phillips to represent the defendant, and ordered that Chaffin be held without bail in the Lane County Jail pending the outcome of his trial.
Meanwhile, several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, an­nounced that they would consider assist­ing in the fight against the imposition of the death penalty on a case-by-case ba­sis. ”Of course we oppose the death pen­alty in any circumstances,” said ACLU spokesman David Fidanque. Fidanque said that the ACLU would co-sponsor a death penalty defense seminar with the Oregon criminal Defense Lawyers Asso­ciation prior to the Chaffin trial, in which death penalty defense experts from around the nation would be brought in to assist in the education of Oregon’s crimi­nal defense attorneys.
“It’s obvious from the (Chaffin) case in Springfield that it (the death penalty) is upon us,” said Greg Veralrud, presi­dent of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. “We were ready for this one. It sounds like we should have been ready a little earlier, but Feb­ruary (1985) was about the earliest we could put together a quality program. There’s a whole new generation of law­yers out there who’ve never been con­fronted with the issues in a death penalty case.”
While Chaffin was in custody await­ing trial, the investigators obtained sam­ples of his head, body and pubic hairs as well as samples of his bodily fluids for use in making the necessary comparisons of the evidence seized from his apart­ment. According to criminalist Pex, results of analysis of hair and various fiber samples obtained from Chaffin’s body and his apartment were “chemically and microscopically indistinguishable” from the samples taken from Glenda Pineda’s body. As far as the semen stain found on the girl’s T-shirt was con­cerned, Pex stated that “Mr. Chaffin cannot be excluded as having deposited that stain.”
Following several months of lengthy pre-trial hearings, including several de­fense motions to suppress evidence (all of which were denied by Judge Spencer) and several other delays, Benny Lee Chaffin’s trial finally began on Monday, June 25, 1985 in the crowded courtroom of Judge Spencer. It was a lengthy trial, often dramatic because of the sordid de­tails that came out and because it was Oregon’s second possible death penalty case in years.
Joseph Kosydar, Lane County assist­ant district attorney, described in his opening statement to the jury how police officers responded to the missing person report filed by Glenda’s parents, how Springfield officers knocked on motel room doors, including Chaffin’s, but got no response at Chaffin’s unit. Kosydar told how officers searched the area thor­oughly several times, including the area where the girl’s body was eventually found. Kosydar said that Glenda’s body had not been missed during the searches; it simply wasn’t placed behind the motel until after the search efforts had been called off. It was believed, he said, that Glenda was likely already dead inside Chaffin’s motel room when police offi­cers knocked on his door and received no response.
Kosydar described how Chaffin chose to remain with investigators from the time he reported the girl’s body until his arrest some 16 hours later, and how Chaffin voluntarily consented to the search of his motel room. Kosydar told a shocked jury and a stunned room of spec­tators how Chaffin later confessed to Springfield Police Sergeant Steve Egeter and other officers that he had raped the girl four times in his Motel room. Kosy­dar said that Chaffin also admitted to beating the girl with his fists and that he had decided he would kill the girl after he had raped her the first time, some 30 minutes after he had persuaded her to go to his room. Kosydar also contended that the victim had been sexually abused with a foreign object.
Chaffin’s defense attorney, Michael Phillips, countered Kosydar’s statements by disputing the prosecutor’s contention that the girl had been sexually penetrated with a foreign object. Phillips further told the jury that Chaffin was under duress by police when he gave his consent for them to search his motel room and that Chaf­fin’s statements to police were not volun­tary.
The first prosecution witness was Springfield police officer Michael Wis­dom who said under questioning by Kosydar that he and other officers had knocked on the door to Chaffin’s room, later determined as where the girl had been held captive, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 8th, but received no response. He also told the jury that a search of the motel grounds revealed nothing unusual and that he and other officers left to search the rest of the neighborhood. Wisdom said that the girl’s body was found dumped in a grassy area behind the motel some 16 hours later.
The next day, Springfield police De­tective Egeter took the witness stand and recounted many of Chaffin’s actions and statements to police following the dis­covery of the girl’s body, many state­ments which had not yet been made pub­lic. Egeter said that Chaffin made a tear­ful statement that he had killed the girl after which he said he had contemplated, but rejected, the idea of suicide.
“He said he knew it was wrong, but that he didn’t know why he did it,” testi­fied Egeter, who said that when he asked Chaffin what “it” referred to. Chaffin replied, “I killed her.” Egeter told the jury that he asked Chaffin if he thought he should go to jail for the killing, after which Chaffin responded, “‘She’s dead. I deserve it. I should be dead.’”
As the trial continued, numerous pros­ecution witnesses testified that physical evidence linked Chaffin to the victim and the crimes, including the semen, hair and fiber samples. Additional testimony was heard from Oregon State Police investi­gators regarding the defendant’s finger­prints found on the shopping cart used by Glenda Pineda, and by Dr. Wilson, depu­ty state medical examiner, who detailed the method of the girl’s death for the jury. “I think there was intent to cause pain as part of what happened in this particular case,” said Dr. Wilson in response to questioning.
At another point in the trial, Prosecutor Kosydar presented a letter that Chaffin wrote to the victim’s mother shortly after his arrest. “It was a horrendous crime I committed,” Chaffin wrote in the letter, “not only against you and your sweet little girl, but against God. I’m finding it hard to accept the sick and sadistic act I committed…No one deserves to die as much as I do at this moment. I committed a crime that can’t go without the state’s most capital punishment.”
During his closing arguments to the jury during the guilt or innocence phase of the trial, co-prosecutor Brian Barnes urged the jurors to find Chaffin guilty of all five charges against him by stressing that the defendant “went to great lengths to inflict pain and suffering” on Glenda Pineda. At one point earlier in the trial the defense contended that Glenda went to Chaffin’s motel room voluntarily, and Barnes reminded the jury of that conten­tion by saying such a contention was “al­most laughable, except it’s so sad.”
“We can’t recreate the horror,” said Barnes. “We can’t recreate the terror. We will never know exactly what took place inside Chaffin’s motel room, but we know the results,” he said, reminding the jury of the sordid details of what happened to little Glenda Pineda, including beating her between rapes to keep her quiet.
“He finally put a ligature around her neck and choked her and choked her,” Barnes continued. “That took a long time. It was a lot of time to think what you’re doing and an even longer time for a victim to agonize. But maybe that’s the most humane thing the defendant did in this case,” to end her suffering by killing her, said Barnes.
Barnes told the jury that Chaffin went to a laundromat located near the motel where he had lived to wash several items of bloodstained clothing, and that Chaf­fin had been drinking beer and playing pinball with grocery money that he had stolen from Glenda.
“He also got rid of other evidence that was never found,” continued Barnes. “He was interested in covering up his actions because a large part of him want­ed to get away with this even though another part of him, possibly subcon­sciously, wanted to get caught.”
During closing arguments by the de­fense, Chaffin’s attorney, Michael Phil­lips, acknowledged that Chaffin killed Glenda Pineda following her disappear­ance but nonetheless urged that jurors find his client guilty of the lesser crime of murder instead of aggravated murder as he was charged. Phillips contended that Chaffin had not kidnapped the girl, kidnapping being one of the aggravating fac­tors resulting in the more severe charge. At the conclusion of his arguments, Phil­lips made a motion for the immediate dismissal on the first-degree kidnapping and the two alleged sex crimes on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that those particular crimes had been com­mitted. Judge Spencer immediately de­nied the motions.
After less than six hours of delibera­tions, the Lane County Circuit Court jury convicted Benny Lee Chaffin of aggra­vated murder, kidnapping and rape in con­nection with the disappearance and death of Glenda Pineda, but acquitted him of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual penetration with a foreign object. Chaffin displayed no emotion as the ver­dicts were read.
After the verdicts were read, the vic­tim’s mother said that she was pleased with the guilty verdict. “But it wasn’t everything I wanted because he was guil­ty all the way…I hope they have the courage to give him the death penalty so real justice can he done,” she said.
On July 11, 1985, during the penalty phase of his trial, Chaffin took the wit­ness stand and told the jury that he knew what he was doing at the time of the murder but couldn’t control himself. During cross-examination by the prose­cution, after Judge Spencer overruled defense objections to the prosecutor’s line of questioning, Benny Lec Chaffin for the first time described in shocking detail how he had repeatedly raped and beat 9-year-old Glenda Pineda before stran­gling her.
Chaffin told the attentive jury that Glenda willingly accompanied him to his motel room on Main Street after he had helped her push a shopping cart from a nearby store toward her home at approxi­mately 8:30 p.m. Gasps could be heard in the courtroom when Chaffin told the jury that Glenda Pineda did not resist him until he asked her to remove her clothes. He said he held her captive in his room, hound by an electrical cord, for approxi­mately 24 hours before he strangled her.
“When did you decide to kill her?” asked Prosecutor Joseph Kosydar.
“I didn’t think whether I should kill her or not,” replied Chaffin. “It was just in my head I’d kill her. There was no thinking about it.” Chaffin told the shocked and stunned jury that he had raped the girl four times, and had beat her about the face and chest during the first three rapes to subdue her struggling. He said he first strangled her with his hands, “until I got tired,” and finished her off with the electrical cord he had used to bind her with earlier. He said he didn’t hit her the final time, during the final rape, “because I didn’t have to…All I can say is that it was consciously in my mind to kill her, and that’s all there was to it,” he said in his strong Texas accent. “I just knew I was killing a girl.”
Chaffin continued with his testimony by saying that the victim had prepared a meal in his motel room, watched televi­sion and talked with him between the sexual and beating assaults, and that she had asked only once to go home. Chaffin told the prosecutor that he had originally planned to place the girl’s body in a near­by dumpster, but decided instead to dump it behind the motel, not far from his room. “I couldn’t understand why I put it right there,” he said. Chaffin added that the crimes he had committed against Glenda Pineda had convinced him that he had severe psychological problems which he had been convinced were nor­mal in the past.
“All my life I’ve known there was something wrong with me, but I always blamed it on others,” he said. “Now that I’m aware of the magnitude of my prob­lems, I’d seek change and help if it was provided. But I’m not saying because I have this problem you should forgive me for what I’ve done. I did it and I should pay for it.”
“Did you tell a transport deputy that you wouldn’t get the death penalty?” asked Prosecutor Kosydar.
“I feel I’m not going to get it,” replied Chaffin.
“Looking at this man’s past,” said Prosecutor Kosydar during final arguments of the penalty phase of Chaffin’s trial, “we see that from the age of sixteen on, he was not afraid to use deadly force in order to accomplish his own violent self-indulgence. Violence is repeated throughout his history…He enjoys vio­lence and sex for his own titillation. It’s not an isolated situation, his combining sex and violence.” Kosydar then showed the jurors a copy of Nazi Lust which was taken from Chaffin’s motel room, a mag­azine which depicted men dressed in Na­zi storm trooper attire engaging in sex with a female that was portrayed as a fresh, budding teenager.
“He told you it (the murder) was up­setting him,” continued Kosydar. “But he didn’t want you folks to know the full extent of the horror and the terror he put that little girl through during the last 24 hours of her life…The self-serving decla­rations of Mr. Chaffin that he has changed are only as good as the man behind them. It’s a common sense deter­mination we’re asking you folks to make. It’s not a question of certainty (whether or not Chaffin is likely to commit future acts of violence, one of three findings neces­sary to impose the death penalty) but of probability…It’s a hard decision and a tough decision. But he’s been violent all his life. It’s time for it to end.”
“If not him, then who should ever be put to death by the state?” asked co-pros­ecutor Barnes. “If these facts don’t war­rant it under the law, none ever will.”
Defense Attorney Phillips argued that a life sentence, mandatory if the jury could not unanimously decide in favor of the death penalty, “is severe punishment for the crime…The alternative is not that Benny Chaffin will go to your house, or your street or your neighborhood in Springfield or Eugene. The alternative to death is that Benny Lee Chaffin will spend the rest of his life in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Benny Lee Chaffin will die in the Oregon State Penitentiary, and your decision affects when, not if.”
Although the jury of six men and six women answered yes to two of three key questions necessary to invoke the death penalty-that Chaffin acted deliberately and that the attack was unprovoked-the jurors could not unanimously decide that Chaffin would continue to commit future acts of violence. As a result, Chaffin was spared the death penalty, but he faces up to 45 years in prison-15 years for the rape conviction and 30 years for the ag­gravated murder conviction, which may be ordered to run consecutively.
“We thought this was a death penalty case all along,” said District Attorney Harcleroad. “It’s fair to say we’re disap­pointed.” How long should Chaffin have to spend in prison? “Forever,” Harcleroad immediately responded.
“I was between waters for a while, worrying if he should go to prison,” said the victim’s mother. “He might suffer more there at the hands of the other in­mates and such, but he’ll be free some day to kill again, and I know that’s just what he’ll do. He’ll kill again.”
Benny Lee Chaffin was sentenced to life in prison because two jurors couldn’t agree on whether Chaffin would be a continuing threat to society.

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