The retrial of Gary Wayne Bennett entered day five on Monday as the defense called more witnesses to testify in the 20-year-old murder case.
Bennett is accused of killing Eva Marie Martin in her Little River Road home back on May 23, 2000. He is facing charges of murder, armed robbery and first-degree burglary. Bennett was originally charged with conspiracy to kidnap as well but those charges were dropped on Friday.
Despite being convicted of murder almost 20 years ago, Bennett has maintained his innocence. Bennett’s conviction was upheld by the appeals court, so he sought post-conviction relief, or PCR, to secure a new trial.
In his pursuit of PCR, Bennett said his trial attorney Johnny Gardner, who is now the Horry County Council chairman, had been ineffective. Bennett was successful in 2014, leading to his new trial that began last week.
The defense brought forth numerous witnesses on Friday that were either former members of local police departments or experts on legal topics such as false witness statements.
During opening statements last week, the defense emphasized that “a few bad apples” in law enforcement “have ruined this investigation” and that police overlooked items such as a boxcutter and scissors.
The defense intends on finishing up their final witness testimony on Tuesday, with the hopes that closing arguments will be completed before lunch time on Wednesday.
Court will be back in session Tuesday at 9 a.m.