Bennett retrial continues

Adam Wiseman takes the stand and is questioned about his time as Gary Bennett’s cellmate in 2000.

The prosecution rested Friday and Gary Wayne Bennett's attorneys began making their case that Bennett did not commit murder in 2000.
 
Following the prosecution's final witness and the excusal of the jury, the state and the defense debated the four charges Bennett faced.
 
Judge Thomas Cooper determined that the state did not prove its case against Bennett on the charge of conspiracy to kidnap, and the charge was ultimately dropped. Bennett is still being tried on charges of murder, armed robbery and first-degree burglary.

Bennett is accused of killing Eva Marie Martin, who was found dead in her Little River Road home on May 23, 2000. Her throat was slit and her pants had been pulled down. 

Bennett has proclaimed his innocence, but he was convicted of murder and armed robbery on Aug. 14, 2002. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 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. It started Monday.
 
The state's final witness was Adam Wiseman. He was a cell mate of Bennett’s.  Records presented in court showed that Wiseman and Bennett were housed together for about two weeks towards the end of August 2000 and the beginning of September 2000.
 
Wiseman was arrested in mid-October of 1999 for failure to stop for a blue light. He was sentenced to three months behind bars.
 
Wiseman said he found it difficult to sleep while housed with Bennett.
 
“I didn’t know if I could go to sleep being in the same cell with someone that was accused of murder,” Wiseman said.
 
During his time with Bennett, Wiseman said he and Bennett frequently talked about the Martin murder case.
 
Wiseman described some of those conversations in a letter he wrote to Horry County Police Detective George Merritt. Wiseman said Bennett had told him about the night Martin was murdered.
 
“I was 24 years old, fresh out of the military and I had someone tell me about a murder,” Wiseman said. “I felt like I had to tell someone.”
 
In the letter, Wiseman wrote that Bennett told him his counterpart, Andrew Lindsay, was the one who killed Martin when the two men were in her home.
 
Martin had refused to give up a combination for a Taco Bell safe that Lindsay and Bennett wanted to steal from, Wiseman wrote. When Martin would not provide that information, Lindsay slit Martin’s throat and then Lindsay and Bennett made the house look like a burglary had happened.
 
Initially, police charged Bennett and Lindsay with Martin's murder.
 
Although he had already been convicted of murder in another state, Lindsay received a plea deal that allowed him to admit to being an accessory after the fact in Martin's death. Lindsay testified that he and Bennett were at Martin’s home when he overheard him killing her while he was in another room.
 
Lindsay testified earlier in the week.

Bennett’s legal team has just started its case. They sought to call a witness to discuss phone records Friday, but they were unsuccessful.
 
Bennett chose not to testify in his defense.
 
Court will resume Monday at 9 a.m.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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