A 63-year-old Detroit man on Monday died from cancer while awaiting trial for allegedly kidnapping and killing a 16-year-old girl who had accused another individual of sexually assaulting her, authorities announced.
In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan said the charges brought against Gerald Bennett in connection with 16-year-old Mujey Dumbuya’s kidnapping and killing included conspiracy to commit murder for hire resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death and kidnapping of a minor victim. He was also charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
“The allegations in this case were heinous and I deeply regret we will never present the evidence against Mr. Bennett in open court,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said. “At best, our efforts can secure only a measure of justice. We can’t bring Mujey back. But the truth-telling role of a conviction matters. I am grateful for the investigators who worked for years to secure justice and my heart remains with her family as they mourn the loss of one they dearly loved.”
Authorities stated that in 2017, Dumbuya accused a certain Quinn James of sexually assaulting her when she was 15 years old. After becoming aware of the criminal complaint, James hired Bennett to assist him in kidnapping Dumbuya and killing her. The victim, then a high school student, was abducted on January 24, 2018, after James and Bennett “communicated for several weeks”, authorities said.
Dumbuya’s body was later found in a wooded area, and the two men were charged in connection with her murder. And though James was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was found guilty of the crime, Bennett’s case was dismissed in March 2022 after he managed to convince the state that he was incompetent to stand trial, authorities said.
But federal and state investigators were adamant Bennett was competent to stand trial and “presented the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office”, the statement said. “In June 2022, Bennett was arrested on a federal criminal complaint that alleged Bennett worked with James to kidnap the 16-year-old girl who had accused James of sexually assaulting her,” the statement added.
“A federal grand jury reviewed evidence against Bennett in August of 2022 and returned an indictment formalizing the charge of kidnapping a minor.”
After subsequently undergoing a competency evaluation, it was established Bennett “was not only competent” but had been “faking his incompetency.” “While Bennett was in custody awaiting his competency hearing, he allegedly solicited another murder for hire in an effort to silence a key witness,” the statement also said.
“Bennett also allegedly admitted to inmates in the jail that he was faking his incompetency. On April 18 of this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ray Kent reviewed the evaluation and ruled that Bennett was competent to stand trial.”
Bennett was also additionally charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in death and solicitation to commit a crime of violence for his “efforts to hire someone to murder a witness in his case.”
The date for jury selection for his trial was set for February 26, 2024. He was, however, admitted to the hospital on November 7 for cancer treatment, authorities said, adding that he was placed on life support the next day after his condition worsened.
“On November 13, Bennett died,” the statement said. “Bennett was the sole defendant in the federal case and with his death, prosecution is no longer possible.”