SANTA ANA (  —  A 40-year-old Santa Ana man was convicted Thursday for the 2009 murder of his former wife in a dispute over child-support payments.

Brian Hughes Benedict, a graduate student at the time attending UC Irvine, shot his former wife, Rebecca Benedict, after attacking her with a hammer.

The jury found Benedict guilty of a felony count of special-circumstances murder for financial gain as well as lying in wait with a sentence enhancement of using a firearm and causing death.

Benedict will be sentenced next month, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The convicted murderer faces a minimum life sentence without the possibility of parole.

During the trial, the prosecution said Rebecca Benedict, then 30, went to pick up the couple’s 4-year-old son from her former husband’s campus apartment on Verano Place. Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said the couple had only recently attended a court hearing in which Benedict was ordered to pay child support.

After being attacked with a hammer, officials said, Rebecca Benedict fled the apartment and tried to find a path to escape. Authorities said Benedict was able to track her down and shot her several times.

Witnesses said Benedict ran back to his apartment and put his son in his vehicle before neighbors could intervene. A group then was able to restrain Benedict until law enforcement arrived.

The case was investigated jointly by the Irvine Police Department and UCI police.


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