CrimeOnline’s own Nancy Grace has weighed in following news that a Florida sailor will only face a maximum of eight years behind bars after admitting to killing his wife who vanished at sea last year.
Speaking with DailyMailTV, Grace expressed outrage that Lewis Bennett, 41, was able to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for killing Isabella Hellman, 41, his wife of three months whose body was never found. During the two-week expedition, which was intended to be a late honeymoon, Bennett reported his wife missing to the Coast Guard while outside Cuba.
The Coast Guard reportedly found Bennett in a life raft 30 miles west of Cay Sal, Bahamas. In his raft were food, water, and silver coins that he later admitted he knew were stolen. CNN reported that the experienced captain and swimmer didn’t require Hellman to wear a life vest, didn’t deploy flares or turn around the catamaran to search for her.
Moreover, an expert witness for the prosecution testified that Bennett intentionally capsized the vessel by damaging the hull from inside the boat.
“This guy’s only facing eight years behind bars for what I consider to be murder,” Nancy said, adding that Bennett’s parents have custody of the couple’s toddler daughter and won’t allow the victim’s family to see her.
The Miami Herald reported that the United Kingdom-Australia dual citizen was initially charged with second-degree murder for the May 2017 incident. Court documents indicated that Bennett killed Hellman, a Cuban-born U.S. citizen, for money and property her would receive in light of Hellman’s death. Bennett filed a presumption of death certificate four months after his wife’s disappearance; the newspaper noted that a presumption of death occurs after five years.
“Lewis Bennett will now be held accountable for his wife’s death while on the high seas,” acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Tom Jones said in a statement.
WPTV reported that two weeks after Hellman’s death, Bennett went to her family’s Boca Raton home to collect her daughter’s things before leaving the country. Despite Hellman’s family’s objections, the child currently lives with her paternal grandparents in the U.K.
“This child will grow up without her mother,” Nancy said. “It’s a miscarriage of justice.”
[Featured image: DailyMailTV video screengrab]