CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - A jury found an Horry County man not guilty in the retrial of a murder case from 2000.
According to information from the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, 57-year-old Gary Wayne Bennett was found not guilty of first-degree burglary, armed robbery and murder in the 2000 death of Eva Marie Martin following a trial that began Oct. 19 with jury selection
Martin was found dead in her Little River Road home on May 23, 2000, according to WMBF’s news partners at MyHorryNews. Although Bennett proclaimed his innocence, he was convicted of murder and armed robbery on Aug. 14, 2002 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
On Aug. 14, 2014, circuit court Judge Benjamin Culbertson overturned the murder and robbery charges against Bennett in Martin’s death and said that the defendant had received ineffective assistance of counsel by his attorney, according to the solicitor’s office. Culbertson granted Bennett a new trial on those charges.
“The state thanks the jurors who not only sat through 10 days of testimony but also deliberated Wednesday and Thursday morning,” solicitor Jimmy Richardson stated.
In a separate unrelated case, Bennett pleaded guilty in July 2001 to first-degree burglary and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, a release from the solicitor’s office stated.
Bennett admitted his involvement in that residential burglary and his co-defendant, Andrew Lindsey, also pleaded guilty. Those charges were never overturned and did not involve Martin, prosecutors said.