CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Alexander Benedetto
Aired March 25, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, meet an American who has just been re-indicted for a murder he was already acquitted of. The victim, his former girlfriend, a beautiful American artist is found dead in the surf off Tortola. His long-time buddy, another American, is now serving life for the killing. Alex Benedetto was supposed to return to court in Tortola last week to tell it to the judge. Instead, he's telling it to us, exclusively next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We have a story tonight that is really incredible. It's like a work of fiction. It is based -- our guest is Alexander Benedetto who was reindicted for murder in the January 2000 death of his former girlfriend, Lois McMillen in Tortola. That's in the British Virgin Islands.
His long-time friend, William Labrador, has been sentenced to life in prison for that same crime. The case is being appealed to the privy counsel, England's highest court. This is the subject of a major story in the April edition of "GQ", brilliantly written by Bob Drury (ph) and titled "The Wrong Man."
I guess the best is to tell it from the beginning, Alexander. You live in New York?
ALEXANDER BENEDETTO, RE-INDICTED FOR MURDER OF FORMER GIRLFRIEND: Yes, sir, born and raised.
KING: Do what for a living?
BENEDETTO: I work in publishing, book and music publishing, my father's legacy.
KING: And you and a group of friends go down -- tell me the story.
BENEDETTO: I went -- in January 2000 I went to Tortola, the British Virgin Islands with William Labrador. And we were meeting up with Mike Spicer (ph), a friend of ours who I had met two, three years earlier and stayed at his house before.
KING: He lives down there?
BENEDETTO: He has a house down there since, I believe, like 20 years.
KING: So the three of you are going to just have some laughs?
BENEDETTO: Just a couple of weeks of fun in the sun. You know, get a tan, do some surfing.
KING: Three single guys?
BENEDETTO: Yes. At the time, yes. And it just -- out of nowhere, the vacation had practically almost ended and out of nowhere, boom...
KING: Were you having a good time up to that point?
BENEDETTO: Nightmare of epic proportions.
KING: Were you having a good time?
BENEDETTO: Everything was fine, yes.
KING: Who is the girl and what happened, you, her and the whole thing?
BENEDETTO: Oh, the girl was -- her name is Lois McMillen.
KING: Very pretty?
BENEDETTO: Very nice girl, very pretty.
KING: She vacationing there too?
BENEDETTO: She has a house also there in the Belmont section of the west end of Tortola.
KING: Her parents there too?
BENEDETTO: Her parents. I believe they've also been there for 20 or so years, known the Spicers for that long, actually.
KING: She lives there or she...
BENEDETTO: No, they do the same, they spend winters there.
KING: Well-off family?
BENEDETTO: I take it.
KING: So you meet her?
BENEDETTO: I met her in '97, my first time down.
KING: Oh, way before this.
BENEDETTO: Yes. I just -- she wasn't really a girlfriend actually. We just had a casual affair back in '97. It lasted just while I was down there and then for like a month up in the States, and no longer. And then after that, the relationship ended, amicably, and I hadn't seen or spoke to her for three, four years until I go back in 2000 and I see her down there for the first time. And I saw her only once.
KING: Didn't date or anything?
BENEDETTO: No, never even spoke to her, date her.
KING: Didn't speak to her?
BENEDETTO: No, we never spoke. We broke up after a very brief relationship.
KING: So you see her.
BENEDETTO: I see her down there in Tortola. And, you know...
KING: Your staying at a hotel?
BENEDETTO: No, no. I'm staying with Mike Spicer.
KING: And with the other fellow who is currently in jail?
BENEDETTO: Currently sitting in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right.
KING: So what happens on the night in question or the day in question? What happens?
BENEDETTO: The night in question -- well, there's no night in question. Actually, we were -- I met her with Mike Spicer and one of -- another one of his friends, Evan George (ph). We met up with her at the west end at a bar, beach bar, two nights previous to her death. And she gave us a lift back up to zebra house where we were staying. I saw her and spoke to her for an hour, two hours tops, and that was the last time I ever saw her. The guys went out with her the next night. I opted to stay home. I was sleeping. I was tired from hiking all day. And they went out with -- William and the other two guys went out with her the next night, Thursday night, and went out for chicken wings and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Not romantic, just some laughs?
BENEDETTO: No, just for fun, just as, you know, old friends that hadn't seen each other in a long time.
KING: And do they come back?
BENEDETTO: They come back, yes. I had woken up when they came back. They came back. And then Friday night we didn't see her, none of us did. We were at home. We entertain -- we had been hiking all day long. And around that -- around that area of the island, the west end section of the island, it's a pretty rugged terrain, divided by beaches and then you'll have rocky light called sugar loaves.
KING: This is like 50 miles from Puerto Rico, right?
BENEDETTO: That's right. Right. And so we were hiking all day, and then we had a late lunch, and then we had some friends over, some fellow Belmontians, let's call them that, neighbors. And they came up for some white wine and some cheese. And this was about from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. And then we had a cab driver come to pick us up and -- because we opted -- we wanted to go to a bar/restaurant to listen to a reggae band, a place called Quito's (ph). And we ended up going -- getting picked up by a cab driver around 10:30, quarter to 11:00, left around 11:00, and went to the west end area to the ATM machine over at a place -- at another (UNINTELLIGIBLE) restaurant where the only ATM machine is, and...
KING: Get some money?
BENEDETTO: Get some money. And then we took that cab, the driver back over across what's called Zion Hill. It's still all over in the west end, pretty much the west end of Tortola is where a lot of the people coming from America or England have their homes, the vacation, the winter vacation, not the locals. So that's that area. So you can -- and it's a very small area, so you can't help but be in that area most of the time when you're coming down to visit.
And then -- plus, it's very rugged there, so you'd want to take a cab driver to drive you around, especially if you are going out and having fun. So then from there, we took that cab and William opted to get out. He wanted to -- he was tired that day from hiking and it was already, you know, 11:45, midnight by this point. He went back. He opted to get off from the cab ride at a place called Sebastian's and walked back up the hill to zebra house.
And we proceeded on, the three of us, me, Mike and Evan proceeded on to Quito's and where we stayed until 2:30, 3:00 in the morning, until the band stopped. And from there, we went back home and the -- with the same cab driver.
KING: He waited for you?
BENEDETTO: Yes, he was there. He had his own fun, having fun, dancing, reggae, all that, on the beach and all that.
KING: Back home you go.
BENEDETTO: Back we go home, 2:30, 3:00.
KING: Your friend is sleeping?
BENEDETTO: William is lying there sleeping in the guest house there. We go back in. We sit down, watch a little TV, unwind a little bit, go to sleep.
KING: You're scheduled to leave fairly soon, right, to go home?
BENEDETTO: Pretty soon. In a few days from that point, we were scheduled to go home.
KING: We're building a good movie here, folks. Then what happens? Didn't see Lois that whole night?
BENEDETTO: Not at all.
KING: Then what happened?
BENEDETTO: Then, the next morning. This is now -- I got up early.
KING: Saturday morning?
BENEDETTO: This is Saturday morning, the 15th of January. I got up around 10:00-ish, because, you know, we get in at 3:00 a.m. so we sleep a little late. By virtue of the fact that we were sleeping late, you know, we didn't answer any phone calls or anything in the morning. So the phone had been ringing.
Anyway, we didn't answer. Nobody left any messages. All of a sudden, I went down to go down to the bottom of the hill to go to a little hamburger stand to get myself some kind of breakfast or something. I was hungry. But I come back up, and -- at 11:00 something. I find that nobody is in the house anymore.
KING: Hold it right there. We'll be right back with Alexander Benedetto and this incredible story. He's being recharged in a murder case here. Follow along with us. We'll be right back.
KING: By the way, our guest was supposed to be in court. This is Monday night. Friday, he wasn't. He's with us. And we taped this on Friday for broadcast tonight so everything is square on this. OK, now what happens? OK, your friends aren't there. What do you do?
BENEDETTO: OK. I waited for them to come. And all of a sudden, lo and behold, I'm waiting and I see at the bottom of the mountain, we were kind of up at the middle of the mountain, and all of the sudden, there's this massive caravan coming of police vehicles and all that...
BENEDETTO: No, no, just coming up casually. I'm like, wow, what's going on. And, all of a sudden, you know, they all pull up into the driveway. And Mike gets out and he is in the company of a royal Virginal police officer, plain clothes. And I'm coming up and I ask, first, I said what happened, guys? And they are like -- and Mike's like, something happened to Lois. And I was like, oh, no. No. No. And I actually started crying because she had actually warned me.
She -- on that night, when I last saw her 48 hours before she died, she said to me -- the first thing she said to me, she said, Alex, there are people on the island that want to put a gun to my head. I said -- that's what she said, quote/unquote. I said, Lois, what did you do? And she gave me this coy little look.
KING: Didn't tell you why?
BENEDETTO: Didn't tell me why. And I said, Lois, what are you doing here if that's the case? Get out of here. She says, my father is ill. He has bladder cancer. I have to be here by his side in case this is the last time I see him. I said, do your parents know about this at least? And she's like, no, I can never tell my parents about this. And I -- I was like, and after that -- and so then the conversation changed. I was thinking like, OK...
KING: And so, the police tell you she was killed or your friend tells you or what happens?
BENEDETTO: Immediately when Mike says something happened to Lois, they pull him aside and they come up to me and they say, you know, the body of a white blonde white girl has been found on the beach on the rocky shoreline on the southern coast of the island. And we believe it to be Lois McMillen. What -- can you assist us in the investigation?
And I start -- like I said, I started tearing, and I thought to them, no. I told them right away. I said, she warned me. She told me people were after her. Wow, you know, I -- I even told the guys, but the guys were like you know, you know, Lois is a little -- she's a little eccentric.
KING: And the police picked up the three other guys? Is that why they weren't...
BENEDETTO: They were in the cars, in their possession.
KING: The police had picked them up?
BENEDETTO: The police -- apparently, at the time they were coming to see me, they were already -- two of them were already down at the police station.
KING: Are you told you are a suspect or are they...
BENEDETTO: No, no, no. We were asked to, quote, "assist in the investigation." I said, I'll do anything I can to help you. Lois is a friend of ours, of course.
KING: Did they tell you how she was killed?
KING: Just that she was killed and they suspect murder or they know it's murder?
BENEDETTO: They don't let us know anything.
KING: They just know there's a body?
KING: Then what happens?
BENEDETTO: OK. So they take us down -- they take me down to the West End police station. And at -- well, actually, at first they started asking me questions up there for a while. And they were -- while they were there, Mike was with them and they were in the process of taking all this -- all clothing, bedding...
BENEDETTO: Everything. From all of us.
KING: The other two guys are there too, right?
BENEDETTO: No. The other two guys are already in custody.
KING: You don't know that?
BENEDETTO: At this point, they are ransacking the place in front of us.
KING: Are you asking why?
BENEDETTO: I asked them, do you have a warrant to do this, first of all, because I've seen that in movies before, and don't you have to have a warrant to do something like this? And they're like, we don't need a warrant, like that kind of thing, like they had already gotten clearance. Of course, they denied saying that afterwards anyway. But, not being a major point because they just wanted to do what they wanted to do.
But what happened was then Mike took me into my room. He said, give me the clothes you were wearing that last night. I said here, take the sheets, everything. Go in the bathroom, take my...
KING: That's what they wanted?
BENEDETTO: Everything. Everything. And, hey, that's fine with me because I knew being an innocent person, I said, take what you want, Take everything.
KING: So did they finally arrest you?
BENEDETTO: No. So then they take us down to the police station. And we are all in different holding cells now all on different parts of the island. And they -- all of a sudden, it goes from, you know, you are assisting us in the investigation to I'm sitting there and my fingernails are being taken and I'm being processed. And I'm watching this.
KING: Fingerprints you mean?
BENEDETTO: No, no. My fingernails. They're starting to take my fingernails from me.
KING: Take them off?
BENEDETTO: Starting to clip my nails to get DNA.
BENEDETTO: And I'm letting this happen, just like, I'm watching like, does this mean I'm a prime suspect in this? They won't answer. They're just like, this is just standard procedure. We have to do this kind of stuff. So they are processing me, while -- I just got in there. So they already, you know, rushed to this conclusion without any rationale.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but what happens here is, apparently, all four of you are jailed with no charge filed, right? You're just held?
BENEDETTO: We're held for four-and-a-half, five days in separate holding cells, cold, dark, dank with a wooden bench, all crooked, back breaking...
KING: Are you allowed a call?
BENEDETTO: Nothing. Nothing. We are locked in there for four- and-a-half, five days. By four-and-a-half days, we have one of the attorneys -- an attorney come that was -- knew the Spicers came and she tried to file a motion -- petition for habeas corpus because we were sitting there locked up being unlawfully detained.
KING: And what happened?
BENEDETTO: Well, they panicked. The prosecution -- I mean, the attorney general's office panicked. And as a result of us filing for habeas corpus to demand why we were being held in the first place without any evidence whatsoever being presented, they charged us, boom.
BENEDETTO: Murder. All charged with murder right there, on the spot. We were like...
KING: It's a nervous laugh now.
BENEDETTO: It's surreal.
KING: Are people in New York, friends, relatives, trying to reach you? They haven't heard from you in four-and-a-half days. You were supposed to be back.
BENEDETTO: Oh, during that point. Of course, yes, sure, there's concern that at that point...
KING: But you don't hear from any of them?
BENEDETTO: No. We can't. I mean, even during our incarceration for 16 months, we were only allowed one phone call.
KING: What happens after you're formally charged?
BENEDETTO: Formally charged, taken up to Balsom Gut (ph), taken up to the main...
KING: That's what?
BENEDETTO: It's called Balsom Gut. That's the prison there. HMP, Her Majesty's Prison, where there's about another 90, 100 inmates from all around the terrain (ph).
KING: Is there an arraignment where you are asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
KING: And you plead?
BENEDETTO: Obviously not guilty.
KING: Then what? Did they set a trial date?
BENEDETTO: Well, what happened is they tell us that you'll be going in every week to be remanded in custody is the British expression. And what that means is you give -- every week you go appear before a magistrate and...
KING: From a jail cell?
BENEDETTO: From the jail, they take you, drive you down. You appear before the magistrate, and they give you -- they let you know the status of their investigation, the preliminary hearing and when it's going to be called, when it's going to be done. What happens is...
KING: Wait a minute. You are waiting for the preliminary hearing?
KING: How long?
BENEDETTO: Five months.
KING: Five months, no preliminary hearing?
BENEDETTO: No preliminary hearing. I'm sorry. That was laughter again. It's just so surreal.
KING: Are you getting a lawyer in New York? Are you contacting someone?
BENEDETTO: No, no, we can't. We're, basically, from the prison we were allowed one 10-minute phone call a week.
KING: So you call a lawyer right away?
BENEDETTO: Well, yes, sure. That was being -- I call my family and they'll arrange for that.
KING: Did a lawyer, did someone come flying down?
BENEDETTO: No flying down. You have to take a local lawyer. You take a local lawyer. You take an attorney from out of that jurisdiction, not only do you insult them, but you -- it just works against you. KING: Did you get a good attorney there?
BENEDETTO: I had a very good attorney, yes. Paul Dennis, a Jamaican fellow, former prosecutor.
KING: Did he explain to you why there is no preliminary hearing, why you keep going back every week for nothing?
BENEDETTO: Well, basically what the prosecution used as an excuse to string us along over the period of five months was that the forensic analysis had not been completed. And that was there...
KING: And why were you charged?
BENEDETTO: Good question. Basically, we were charged with no evidence against us whatsoever. That's the whole point. That's why this was such a...
KING: This is the subject of a major story in the new "GQ" called "The Wrong Man" by Bob Drury (ph). Our guest is Alexander Benedetto. It gets worse. Don't go away.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE with Alexander Benedetto. Great pleasure to have him with us in this incredible tale. I'm told there were scratches on your leg, right?
BENEDETTO: Well, I told you we had been hiking. We hiked every day. I was the cameraman. I had a camera with me and I took photographs of the guys as we were hiking around Belmont Point and Steel Point, those two sugar loaves I told you about. Well, I slipped and fell along a rock face. And I fell into the water. But I managed to hold on to the camera with my left hand and I slid down the side of a rock face and I got like an abrasion here and one on my leg. So, but...
KING: Was that used against you?
KING: How was she killed? You still don't know?
BENEDETTO: I have no idea.
KING: To this day you don't know?
BENEDETTO: I can only told you what we were told by detectives and private investigators. There's many different theories in terms of what actually happened to her. The major one is that she left -- that she left the Jolly Roger where she was last seen with multiple witness statements to that fact and she left sometime around 10:30, and they -- what is surmised is that someone was in the back of her car and...
KING: Killed her?
BENEDETTO: Chased her out of the car because apparently someone, if you want to call it a witness, someone who gave testimony six months after the fact at the preliminary hearing that they heard a car screech and stop short at around, I think -- I believe they said quarter to midnight.
KING: And she was killed how? Drowned?
BENEDETTO: Well, yes. Apparently. That's what the autopsy report said. Whatever happened, she was chased into the water. This is the prosecution's theory. And that someone forcibly drowned her in the water. Kept her head under the water.
KING: The prosecution think the four of you did that?
BENEDETTO: Their theory is, and this is all in the trial transcripts, they -- their argument is that we acted in concert.
KING: For what motive?
BENEDETTO: They don't have a motive. There is no motive. There is no...
KING: Did the United States counsel do anything on your behalf?
BENEDETTO: The consulate was very supportive in terms of -- in the first four months of our incarceration we were held 23 hours a day lockdown in 9 by 12 cells.
KING: This a British island with democracy.
BENEDETTO: Apparently. Supposedly. Nine by 12 cells, we were held for 23 hours a day for four months, to the point where we wrote so many protest letters and our families were so protesting this that the consulate sent a letter to the governor saying, can you please at least let these men out of their cells for a little bit of time.
KING: How did they answer all the letters? Is that just the way they do the law in Tortola?
BENEDETTO: Well, it's very...
KING: We are going to kill tourism for Tortola tonight.
BENEDETTO: Well, I don't mean to do that, Larry.
KING: Well, you ain't going to help.
BENEDETTO: It's a beautiful place and the people are good people. It's just we got -- what happened was -- the low-down is they made a really bad mistake.
KING: But they had a witness the at the trial who was in jail. And who testified that one of you, which one of you, told him that you killed her.
BENEDETTO: Yes. Apparently...
KING: Who was that?
BENEDETTO: That's William Labrador who is still sitting up there in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and so (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for life.
KING: Someone testified that Labrador told them in prison that he killed her? Is that it? Is that what he said?
BENEDETTO: This is how despicable it starts to get. What happens is six months down the road, after, you know, I told you about the preliminary hearings being constantly canceled, by the time we hold the preliminary hearing in June, we are told that all of the results of the forensics have come back negative, or to put it in the prosecution's expression, were not completed satisfactorily.
You know, so they -- it doesn't link any of us to this -- to the crime scene or -- to either the crime scene, in her vehicle, in our house, nothing.
BENEDETTO: All the 96 items of forensics, three different labs.
KING: How can you go to trial?
BENEDETTO: They're six months down the road and realize, wow, what a mistake we've made. How are we going to get out of this one. In walks Mr. Plant.
KING: Who is?
BENEDETTO: He is the con man, the notorious multiple felon conman who sets us up from within the prison.
KING: He was in prison the at the time?
BENEDETTO: He was the only other, quote, fellow American in the jail the at the time.
KING: He testifies what?
BENEDETTO: He testifies that -- he testifies that Labrador confesses to him in his cell during Easter.
KING: Did you know him in prison?
BENEDETTO: Know who? Mr. Plant?
BENEDETTO: You couldn't help not know him. We were in what's -- we were in like a prison within the prison. You are in this small wing community where, you know, everybody is practically one on top of the other. It's like you can't not know.
KING: So all of you knew Plant?
BENEDETTO: Yes, quite. We had been forewarned about this man.
KING: When he testified, were you shocked?
KING: Three of you have your own lawyer or one lawyer for all of you?
BENEDETTO: No, we each had our own attorneys.
KING: What does Labrador say when Plant testifies? Don't you all look at Labrador?
BENEDETTO: We are in a system where you can't say anything or do anything. You are...
KING: How about on a break?
BENEDETTO: Well, I mean, when plant gave his testimony, I mean, poor Williams' jaw dropped. He was like, what? What? How could you -- and then when you find out the real story about Plant.
KING: Which was?
BENEDETTO: Plant was -- had been -- he was a fraudster. He was facing multiple fraud charges.
KING: He's in jail now?
BENEDETTO: He's back in the penitentiary in Huntsville in Texas. He served seven years of a 45-year theft conviction, felony theft for back in the '80s.
KING: Was he doing this to get some time off?
BENEDETTO: What he did was, he was on the lam in violation of his parole for the third time and left the United States and he was in Tortola. He wasn't even supposed to be there, let alone...
KING: So what deal did he make with the prosecution?
BENEDETTO: He, all of a sudden, now, we could sense -- we sensed because you could feel his tension and fear because there was something that ran in the paper that Plant faces extradition back to the United States. This was about March, April. You could see this guy is plotting, plotting. We are all locked down. So he only has a brief hour out.
KING: Meanwhile, you're going crazy?
BENEDETTO: The first few months were really tough. Really tough. KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back. We're only halfway through this incredible tale. Alexander Benedetto is the guest. The full story called "The Wrong Man" is in the current "GQ." We'll be right back.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE with Alexander Benedetto. William Labrador is still in prison, sentenced to life in prison for murder. He's in Tortola, right?
BENEDETTO: That's correct.
KING: He's there now. OK, the trial goes on. I understand that this attorney Michael Griffith, who represented Billy Hays of Midnight Express notoriety, he represented Labrador, right?
BENEDETTO: Yes, he did.
KING: They allowed him to come in from out of the country?
BENEDETTO: No. He just functioned on a consultant level. No American attorneys are allowed.
KING: Was this a trial?
BENEDETTO: Yes, a nine-person jury.
KING: How long were they out?
BENEDETTO: Were they out? You are now skipping way ahead.
KING: OK, well, he's testified.
BENEDETTO: This is Plant testifying in a preliminary hearing. This seals the deal for them in order to hold us longer to even get to go to a trial. If this had happened in the United States it never would have even ever gone to trial.
So there you go. Now we have another waiting period. That is the summer, June of 2000. Now you got -- we're supposed to go to trial October. In October they delay it again. We are ready for trial. They say, the forensics, all negative. We're going to try this new low copy DNA testing.
Brand new, one year-old. Give us one more chance here. So the judge allows it. They traverse it until November. In the beginning of November, still not ready. Actually, excuse me in October they asked for a -- they asked to go in the first of November because it's a long trial they want to go last. In November they use the excuse we need time. Let's traverse it so that will be March to get the low- copy DNA done.
KING: Now you've been in there over a year.
BENEDETTO: March we're going to trial. It's been a year and two months we've been in prison. So you've got -- now we're going to trial. March, again, they do the same thing. They say let's do it at the end because it will be a long one. April we start. We go to trial. This is the month of April. Four weeks it goes on. The prosecution calls 20 witnesses.
KING: Including Plant?
BENEDETTO: Well, Plant is their only witness per se. The witnesses are your -- just formality sake. People to take statements.
KING: No one says they saw you that night they saw her with her?
BENEDETTO: None. Nobody. In fact there was a plethora, a multitude of statements that were exculpatory, which were -- they were always withheld from us till the last second. Before we went to trial in October, we never had our hands on the statements of all the people that saw her at Jolly Roger that said those guys were never there. And the same thing for at Quito's or the cab driver's testimony that we were with him the whole time.
KING: Did you take the stand?
BENEDETTO: No. I didn't have to.
KING: They tossed your case. How did that circumstance come up?
BENEDETTO: What happened after four weeks of testimony, all their witnesses, everything, I mean, even bringing in experts, which amounted to nothing, on the -- on the voodoo forensics that ended up being like .003 milligram of sand on a sneaker that was dry, not wet to begin with. They're using -- as I was mentioning to you before about when they came and took everything from the house, they used as their reasoning during the preliminary parts of this ordeal these wet and sandy sneakers.
You asked me about my scrapes and I tell you about hiking and stuff. I saved that camera. I got a picture of the guys with those sneakers on in the wet, sandy area of us hiking. So there, you know, the Labrador team made sure to get that into evidence because they did, as well as the fact I got a picture of Williams' nose. He had this big sunburn blister on his nose which the prosecution was alleging was a cut from a struggle of some sort.
KING: So, what happened after four weeks?
BENEDETTO: After four weeks of trial, the judge, he ordered that the case be thrown out against the three of us since there is no alleged confession to Mr. Plant on the part of us three and there's no evidence whatsoever that can link any of the three of us to this crime.
KING: So he finds you not guilty or he dismisses?
BENEDETTO: He orders the jury after...
KING: To find you not guilty? BENEDETTO: To find us not guilty.
KING: Wow. Out you go and home, right?
BENEDETTO: Yes, it was -- yes, it was an evacuation. I mean, get the heck out of Dodge. Get the heck out of Dodge.
KING: How about our poor friend?
BENEDETTO: Our poor friend William is still sitting there. yes. And who knows, I mean, it's -- thank God now it's going to the privy counsel.
KING: What is the privy counsel?
BENEDETTO: It's the House of Lords.
KING: In London?
BENEDETTO: In London. That's tantamount to our Supreme Court under their system.
KING: Who argues the case there?
BENEDETTO: There you have privy counsel attorneys. They have a different legal system where they have barristers and solicitors. But the barrister will be presenting the case before the House of Lords of five-judge panel.
KING: When is this?
BENEDETTO: Well, we have submitted our draft petition for leave to appeal.
KING: Why do you have to be involved at all? They've recharged you, right?
BENEDETTO: What happened is, during the course...
KING: If you are not guilty, isn't that double jeopardy? They charged all three of you?
BENEDETTO: What happened was during the course of the summer, there was an appeal.
KING: You're home now.
BENEDETTO: I'm home now.
KING: The other two guys are gone.
BENEDETTO: So are the other two. There's an appeal on the part of the prosecution.
KING: The prosecution can appeal a not-guilty ordered verdict?
BENEDETTO: In this jurisdiction, yes. One of the only two in the western hemisphere.
KING: Can't do that in London.
BENEDETTO: No, in London you can't appeal an acquittal.
KING: The Magna Carta, people fought for that.
BENEDETTO: I believe so, yes.
KING: So that's double jeopardy. So the prosecution appeals the "not guilty."
BENEDETTO: They appeal the decision.
KING: And they win that appeal?
BENEDETTO: They win the appeal against me.
KING: The not the other two?
BENEDETTO: Labrador filed an appeal also against his conviction. And that was -- that was upheld. His conviction was upheld. But my acquittal was reversed. And...
KING: By whom?
BENEDETTO: By the appellate court judges.
KING: In Tortola?
BENEDETTO: In tortola.
KING: They're trying extradite you back?
BENEDETTO: No, no.
KING: Why not?
BENEDETTO: The prosecutor in court the other day, on the record, stated that he knows the that the U.S. government would not extradite me based on what you said.
KING: Were you supposed to go back there last Friday?
BENEDETTO: I was supposed to go back today.
KING: We're taping this on Friday, we are playing on Monday. You were supposed to go back?
BENEDETTO: I was supposed to go back this morning, and...
KING: There is no extradition between the two?
BENEDETTO: I would have gone down there, Larry, with my head held high as an innocent man to defend my honor and my dignity and my innocence. KING: But...
BENEDETTO: But I was put in a situation where I was really faced with a difficult decision because by virtue of the appellate court overturning my acquittal, I was -- so immediately, even the prosecutor asked for a -- the judges to issue an arrest warrant on the spot, and they said, that's not our jury, we can't do that. You take care of that yourself.
But that's how overzealous they are.
KING: You are afraid to go back.
BENEDETTO: No, point being -- anybody in their right mind would be -- but point being is that I am put in this invidious situation where I would like to go back to answer the lesser charge of conspiracy, which is very nebulous charge as it is.
KING: That's all it is, is conspiracy?
BENEDETTO: That's the last charge they charged us with. They charged us with murder, accessory and conspiracy.
KING: The only thing left against you now...
BENEDETTO: ... was conspiracy up until they overturned my acquittal. Here I am in a situation where there is an arrest warrant out for me for murder. I'm going to be retried for -- guaranteed, they told the court there's no doubt if he comes down we'll rearrest him. During the process, during the weeks before this upcoming date I tried through England, my lawyers tried through England to get them.
And the solicitors in England were amenable and tried to get the Tortoleans prosecution to comply and say listen, put a stay of execution on these proceedings so that Mr. Benedetto can come down and face the lesser charge the at the moment. You've acknowledged, that you are not ready to proceed on the conspiracy because Plant is in Texas somewhere, and the U.S. government is not letting him go anywhere for quite awhile because they know exactly everything that went down here.
KING: I got to get a break. They refused that?
BENEDETTO: They stonewalled him to the bitter end. I didn't know until Thursday night that they weren't going to comply. They wanted me down there to trap me, to reabduct me and hold me hostage again conceivably for the rest of my life.
KING: You are a fugitive of not guilty.
KING: We'll be right back. I think that's right. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL SPICER: I want to jump in the ocean. I want to yump in the beautiful Caribbean Sea and have the salt water wash the circumstances of the prison off me.
EVAN GEORGE: I felt like crying right when I was told, because it has been just so long, I thought it would never happen.
SPICER: After 14 months it's quite a relief. But I will be home to America tomorrow, I believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I said fugitive. You don't consider yourself a fugitive even though they say you should come back.
KING: You're not guilty. The whole thing is bizarre. This is like you said during the break, this is Kafka.
BENEDETTO: It's surreal. Absolutely surreal.
KING: This is the gulag. This is Dostoyevski -- Siberia.
BENEDETTO: However you'd like to put it.
KING: This is crazy. Have you been in touch with your friend, with Mr. Labrador?
BENEDETTO: I called William a couple of times last year.
KING: That's all?
BENEDETTO: They get very limited phone privileges down there. I don't want to take up any of his phone time that he needs to talk to his family or his lawyers. You know what I mean? I spoke to him two or three times and I had like Michael on the phone too, my father, my girlfriend, everybody trying to, you know, give him support.
KING: How about the other two guys? Where are they?
BENEDETTO: Mike went down. Mike just called me. He went down there. The whole thing was a setup to just get me to come down so that they could reincarcerate me.
KING: Where are we right now, Alex? You didn't go, this is Monday. You didn't go on Friday. Where are we right now with this case?
BENEDETTO: OK, where are we right now with this case? We are going, like I told you, Larry, we are going to the privy counsel, which -- which hopefully will be heard by the fall.
KING: But if they would, God forbid, rule against you, you would just stay here and the government won't extradite you. You are clear, aren't you? Or do you have a fear that this government would extradite you?
BENEDETTO: From my research and from what I know, the government is pretty well aware of what's gone on here.
KING: So you don't have a fear you'll ever be in a jail in Tortola again?
KING: Tortola, I'm sorry.
BENEDETTO: I -- I should think not.
KING: OK, but still you are interested in...
BENEDETTO: Rightfully not. I'm interested in standing up for my dignity and honor and good name.
KING: What about for William?
BENEDETTO: You know, I can't really -- to get in a position where I would have to celebrate his cause, it puts me in further jeopardy. You see, because the way they function there, if should things go wrong and then I am faced with a retrial. If it gets to that point...
KING: Worst case scenario?
BENEDETTO: Worst case scenario, I'd do it. There's nothing like innocence to provide you with a foundation of strength, which is just, I can't tell you, it's how I made it through this whole experience. It's -- you rise above. You transcend all the negativity, all the nonsense all the duplicity, all of the lies, all the misdeeds that thrust your way.
When you know you are an innocent person you just have this overwhelming, underlying faith and sense of security that at some point this thing is going to be set straight. And God is going to shine the light on this and show it for what it is at some point.
KING: Is there any doubt in your mind that William is innocent?
BENEDETTO: Any doubt that William is innocent?
KING: Any doubt at all?
BENEDETTO: No. By virtue of the fact...
KING: So they are holding an innocent American who had absolutely nothing to do with the murder in an English possession...
BENEDETTO: Former possession.
KING: But still, supposedly English law.
BENEDETTO: Right. KING: The law we were raised on.
BENEDETTO: Right. I say that only because Lois had told me two days prior that people were after her and she was feeling uncomfortable on the island and that the locals were not taking well to her.
KING: Did you tell the police that?
BENEDETTO: I tried to multiple times. Multiple times while taking my statement under caution, I'm telling the guy writing my statement, Lois told me people were after her and wanted to do harm. She was in fear of her life. There were like, no, no, no, man, that doesn't matter.
Then during the trial, when those two policemen, one of the witness, the guy who took my statement are up on the stand, my attorney gets to cross-examine them and said, didn't Mr. Benedetto tell you repeatedly that Lois, that the deceased told him that she was in fear for her life and that she felt threatened? And they did the convenient response on the stand knowing that if they said yes, which was the truth, they would have been -- they would have been -- that would have given credence to the argument. If they said no they might have been caught in a lie.
KING: What did they say?
BENEDETTO: I can't recall. The typical response of, you know, the side step.
KING: Did they look for other suspects?
BENEDETTO: Look for other suspects. There was -- there is a couple other obvious suspects.
KING: There are?
BENEDETTO: Yes, there are. And they were completely overlooked. And it's very bizarre because I can't go into speculating about that, especially in this forum. But I have, through our research and investigators and everything there are other suspects. But they were conveniently -- I mean, just for instance, just for say, this is part of the record. There was, and it's even in the article, I believe, the witness -- multiple witness statements to her, at the Jolly Roger speaking to some unknown guy, some unidentified man at this time, who all of a sudden right before she leaves is gone also. And multiple witnesses...
KING: That's in the article. Let me get a break.
BENEDETTO: That's one possible one.
KING: What a story. If you want to read all about it, it's in the current "GQ," the April issue by Bob Drury called "The Wrong Man." This is for a movie. Alexander Benedetto is our guest. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parents of Lois McMillon firmly believe Tortolean justice has found the killers of their daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least possibly two of them are really responsible for beating her to death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two being...
BENEDETTO: Mr. Labrador and Mr. Benedetto.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I think we told you the full story. Let's tie some loose ends. What about her family? What do they think of all of this? Her parents?
BENEDETTO: Oh, I think, you know, I really -- as much as I've been the brunt of a lot of misguided vengeance and meanness, I still feel for the family. I realize it's their only daughter. She was our friend, and to be put in the firing line of this, it's, as infuriating as it has been and as debilitating, still, my heart still does go out to the McMillons.
KING: Do they believe you, to your knowledge?
BENEDETTO: They have been completely hoodwinked and...
KING: They don't believe you?
BENEDETTO: I'm sorry?
KING: They don't believe you?
BENEDETTO: I'm saying they believe the prosecution's theory.
KING: They don't believe you?
BENEDETTO: Heck no. I don't think we would be at this point right now. They completely go according to the prosecution's theory and this Mr. Plant's...
KING: Did she ever have another boyfriend? Was she ever threatened by anyone?
BENEDETTO: It was in the record even during trial, admitted into evidence, that she had a previous boyfriend down there on the island who had a history of violence with her. It's documented in police reports. And that also, anytime there was another suspect that would be so obvious, you know, this should be a prime suspect, conveniently pushed aside. Anything exculpatory was always conveniently pushed aside.
KING: How do you imagine poor Williams is doing?
BENEDETTO: He keeps himself together by -- he has a green thumb and does a lot of planting. Trees and plants and vegetables.
KING: Do you know if he's confident he's going to get out of this?
BENEDETTO: I should think, as -- I think he should be confident, yes. From what I've -- from what my attorneys have told me, all of the attorneys, actually involved it this on the defense side, feel very confident about the privy counsel. They have been told that these gentlemen in the House of Lords are very intelligent men and they will -- one of my attorneys said they will see this for what it is.
KING: Are you going to go over for this?
BENEDETTO: You know, I don't know right now.
KING: What was she like?
BENEDETTO: I'm sorry.
KING: What was she like, the deceased?
BENEDETTO: Oh, she was a sweet girl. Very -- very artistic. Very creative. Very flamboyant. Very eccentric. Artistic.
KING: Did you ever think you were in love with her?
BENEDETTO: No. I broke off the affair and -- very quickly. Because, just not on the same wave length. Not on the same page.
KING: You keep in touch with the other two guys who are free?
BENEDETTO: Oh, yes, sure.
KING: The friendship remains?
BENEDETTO: Oh, sure. After what we've been through.
KING: I don't imagine you vacation anywhere near...
BENEDETTO: Larry, I haven't taken a...
KING: American or British Virgin Islands, possibly not even Puerto Rico.
BENEDETTO: Actually, I gave a picture of William and Mike and I a few years earlier in St. Bartz. We used to like to go to St. Bartz a lot. We usually go actually mostly every winter in January. but that year we were contemplating going and we decided not to and going home and then this whole thing happened. So I miss Bartz. I don't miss that place. That's for sure. The Caribbean, for the moment is kind of out of the picture. Has a bad taste in my mouth. KING: So based on everything you feel, with all you've been through, with what the lawyers tell you and this privy thing coming, you think, right will out?
BENEDETTO: Oh, I have total faith that eventually that, yes, good will triumph and the truth will come out.
KING: Thank you so much.
BENEDETTO: Thank you, sir for taking an interest in our ordeal. Really appreciate it.
KING: I urge you to read the April issue of "GQ" magazine. The article is Bob Drury called "The Wrong Man." tomorrow night, Celine Dion. Jodie Foster on Wednesday. Stay tuned for NEWS NIGHT WITH AARON BROWN.
From New York, I'm Larry King with Alexander Benedetto. Good night.
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