The leader of a horrific 2009 attack on a Loudoun couple as they took their morning walk has been sentenced to four life terms.
The attack, more than seven years ago, killed William Bennett, while his wife, Cynthia, survived with serious injuries.
Anthony Roberts, 26, pleaded guilty on Monday, June 20 after prosecutors agreed to drop the prospect of the death penalty in exchange for Roberts’ guilty plea to four of the charges he faced, including capital murder.
A death penalty case would have lasted for years, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said which would have put more burden and grief on the family.
“They were at a point where they needed the closure,” Plowman said. “They’d endured enough. They’d endured too much and they wanted it over.”
On the morning of Mar. 22, 2009 the Bennetts were walking on a quiet street in Lansdowne when two men got out of a white van and approached them, according to court documents.
With the intent to rob the couple. Roberts, then 19, and Darwin Bowman, then 18, got out of the vehicle while the 17-year-old driver, Jaime Ayala, stayed in the van. Roberts punched, kicked and beat William Bennett, 57, until he died from his injuries.
According to court documents, Bowman chased Cynthia Bennett and together with Roberts beat and sexually assaulted her.
The three then fled the scene with Bennet’s wallet, only to return to the area about 10 minutes later to move Cynthia Bennett away from the road and to collect evidence which could have been used against them. According to court documents, the attackers later destroyed the evidence.
William Bennett died from his injuries and Cynthia Bennett was rushed to a hospital. She suffered permanent injuries to her entire body, and after multiple surgeries has recovered much, but must walk with a cane.
The crime “shattered our lives,” the Bennetts’ daughter Samantha said in the courtroom Monday.
Roberts apologized and said in court he was, “man enough to take responsibility.”
Judge Thomas D. Horne imposed the maximum punishment, four life sentences without parole.
“You literally beat a man to death,” Horne said. “This wasn’t just misjudgment. This was uncontrolled anger to put other people’s lives in jeopardy.”
Ayala pleaded guilty for his part in Bennet’s murder in February 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years. Bowman pleaded guilty in 2013 and as part of a deal was sentenced to 43 years in prison.