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Criminal Charges Planned Against Pepperdine President’s Son In Drug Death Of Friend

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MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — The Sheriff’s department is planning to file criminal charges against the son of Pepperdine’s president in the drug overdose death of a friend.

Katie Wilkins, then 25, overdosed on heroin in April 2012. She was found dead in the garage of her parents’ hilltop Malibu mansion.

She was last seen with Christopher Benton, son of Pepperdine President Andrew Benton.

“I am so thankful. I’ve been praying for this since we found Katie had died,” said her mother Diane.

Rachel Kim, reporting for CBS2, spoke to Diane and Rob Wilkins, Katie’s parents.

“If she had died accidentally from a heroin overdose, it would have been horrific, but we would have been able to deal with that. There was no accident here,” said Diane.

Investigators believe Katie Wilkins and Benton were close but had not been in touch for some time. Katie’s family said she was trying to kick drugs.

“When they became reacquainted that night, she went down to the McDonald’s, picked him up, brought him up here, then within a few hours, she had passed away,” said Rob.

The lead investigator believes after Katie went into distress, Benton left her and drove away in her BMW. Detective Tim O’Quinn also believes Benton should be held liable for her death because under existing case law, people present during drug overdoses can be held criminally culpable for deaths that occur on their watch. He believes the DA should ask for an involuntary manslaughter charge.

The detective believes Benton moved her into the garage, splashed water in her face and took her 1998 BMW Z3.

“He left her there, right next to a telephone,” said Rob.

Benton is currently serving a two-year sentence for making criminal threats –including against his father — last August on the Pepperdine campus. When arrested, Benton had a loaded semi-automatic gun.

In a recently interview published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrew Benton acknowledged his son’s drug addiction. He was quoted as saying, “He never wanted to hurt us, or Pepperdine, but drugs are a very demanding, cruel master. ”

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