By Mella Bettag
SACRAMENTO – At the beginning of his arraignment here in Sacramento County Superior Court this week, Dante Benton was faced with two possible futures—one where he’d be stuck in custody with tens of thousands of dollars for bail, or one where he’d be a free man.
In the end, his reality was a compromise between the two.
In the past, Benton has stayed in juvenile detention, been on juvenile probation, and been convicted on charges of battery and corporal injury to cohabitants. His history of violence is attributed to his schizophrenia diagnosis.
To treat his schizophrenia, Benton has been given medical prescriptions and has visited a psychiatric doctor. For the past few months, Benton has not been attending regular appointments and, according to his mother’s account, has not been taking his medicine either.
On the day of the alleged incident that brought him to court, Benton asked his mother to buy him cigars, which she refused to do. In response, Benton began verbally threatening her, which prompted Benton’s father to step in.
Things escalated as the defendant pulled a pair of kitchen knives out of a nearby laundry bag and threatened his father with them. The family soon locked Benton out of the house as he continued to threaten them.
Currently, Benton faces two charges—threats to commit a crime resulting in bodily harm or death and threats with a weapon. These were first heard during Benton’s arraignment in Sacramento Superior Court Dept. 60 on June 15.
The first part of the arraignment was predictable. Judge Scott L. Tedmon inquired about counsel for Benton, and Assistant Public Defender Andrew Crouse was appointed. After a brief private conversation, Crouse returned to the court with a request that Benton be released on his own recognizance.
Crouse laid out the evidence for Benton’s OR release. Firstly, he affirmed that Benton agreed to have no contact with the victim or any of his immediate family after the release. Additionally, Benton ensured that he would start taking his medicine and following his medical treatment plan. With a history of compliance with law enforcement, Crouse argued that Benton would stick to his word and should therefore be released.
Rawan Abuelreich, a law intern supervised by Deputy District Attorney Elise Stafford, requested that, instead of release, Brenton be kept in custody with a bail of $25,000. After stating the facts of the alleged incident and Brenton’s record, Abuelreich emphasized the victim’s desire for prosecution and the direct threat they believed Brenton posed to the victim’s safety.
Judge Tedmon believed that the only way to move forward was a compromise.
After hearing both arguments, Tedmon decided the court would release Benton with pre-trial conditions, meaning Benton must continue counseling and medications, and all other court-ordered rules, including a no-contact order Tedmon issued.
Further proceedings in Brenton’s case will resume on July 13, 2020, in Department 63 of Sacramento Superior Court.
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