Forand Jessica Devnani, 2018 was shaping as much as be a yr to recollect.
“I used to be wanting ahead to getting married,” she tells “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant. “We’re going to have, like, the fairy-tale life.”
Patrick proposed simply six months after they started relationship – and ordered a custom-made engagement ring for Jessica. “He by no means obtained to offer it to me,” says Jessica.
On February 27, 2018, Patrick was gunned down, ambush-style on the entrance door of his house Deltona, Florida, house.
Who would wish to hurt him? Detective Chad Weaver of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office discovered from Jessica that the couple had been harassed by her jealous former boyfriend, Greg Bender, who left the couple threatening messages.
“It’s virtually like he by no means left. Like he was shadowing my life, like he was not accepting of it in any respect,” says Jessica.
Weaver knew he had a major suspect in Bender, however little proof linking him to the crime – till he obtained a tip from Bender’s former spouse, who advised the detective Bender had written a homicide plan. But what had been the probabilities Weaver would discover it?
A DEADLY AMBUSH
What began as a gradual Tuesday morning in 2018 for Volusia County, Florida, Sheriff’s Detective Chad Weaver modified dramatically when a fragmented 911 name from a neighbor reporting Patrick De La Cerda’s demise got here in.
OPERATOR: 911, the place is your emergency?
CALLER: … has been shot and killed!
OPERATOR: When did that occur?
CALLER: I do not know.
OPERATOR: You do not wish to attempt CPR, right?
CALLER: No, No. He’s useless. He’s chilly.
Within minutes, sheriff’s deputies sporting physique cameras entered the luxurious, 9-acre compound on the outskirts of Deltona, fearful that the killer should still be right here.
DEPUTY [body cam video, shouting into the building]: Sheriff’s Office! If you are inside, it’s worthwhile to announce your self now!”
Detective Chad Weaver: When the deputies confirmed up, that they had their weapons out and … getting ready for the worst however hoping for the perfect.
With the gunman nonetheless at massive, Detective Weaver took cost of the crime scene as TV information choppers hovered above.
Det. Chad Weaver: As we walked as much as that space, you possibly can see a male, regarded like he was in his early 20s … appeared that he was affected by a number of gunshot wounds.
WKMG NEWS REPORT: Deputies say somebody shot proper by way of his entrance door.
Patrick De La Cerda, 25, had been shot 4 instances by a high-powered rifle, proper within the doorway of the home he shared together with his father, Max, who was out of city that day.
Max De La Cerda: I by no means obtained to say goodbye to my son, I by no means obtained to speak to him…nothing
Detective Chad Weaver: You might see the entrance door was open, there was glass far and wide, there’s plenty of blood. … You know, proper off the bat you are going, “OK, that is in all probability going to be a whodunit.”
At the scene, Detective Weaver and a number of other deputies approached a traumatized Jessica Devnani, Patrick’s 29-year-old fiancée,
OFFICER: Whose home is that this?
JESSICA DEVNANI: My boyfriend’s home and his dad’s home.
Jessica Devnani: I used to be simply strolling in circles round, like, the entrance yard, simply pacing up and down.
OFFICER [to Jessica]: Ma’am, come over right here. Stay right here behind the tree.
Just two months earlier — at this very location — Patrick had popped the query to Jessica and introduced her with a short lived engagement ring.
Jessica Devnani: It simply got here out of nowhere. … He simply requested, “Like, you already know, will you marry me?”
Peter Van Sant: And what did you say?
Jessica Devnani: Of course I mentioned sure, I used to be so excited.
The marriage proposal could not have come at a greater time for Jessica, who labored as a financial institution teller. Months earlier, she had ended a tumultuous eight-year relationship after which met Patrick on a relationship app.
Jessica Devnani: We simply fell in love, like immediately. … It was a connection from the start. So, it was sort of like love at first sight.
Jessica and Patrick, who labored a building job together with his father, partied and performed collectively as their romance blossomed.
Patrick ordered a custom-made murals to be delivered to his house for Jessica’s everlasting engagement ring. He was a romantic, says his mom Patricia Ronze.
Patricia Ronze: Patrick was an exquisite son. … And he beloved youngsters. He beloved infants. … And I actually was wanting ahead to have grandchildren from him.
Jessica and Patrick lived in several cities. She was in Orlando, whereas Patrick lived together with his father in Deltona, 30 miles away.
On the night time of February 26, 2018, Patrick left her this candy voicemail:
PATRICK DE LA CERDA VOICEMAIL: “I really like you, good night time, candy desires. In the morning I’ll name you, I’ll ship you a textual content after I get up a little bit later, all proper? Love you. … Good night time, bye.”
It can be the final voicemail she would ever obtain from her love. The subsequent day, a sequence of what appeared like random occasions would change all the pieces. The first got here when Patrick’s father Max, who was 70 miles away engaged on a building job, obtained a telephone name.
Det. Chad Weaver: Max will get a telephone name from an unknown particular person stating that they’ve a bundle to ship to his son, Patrick. Max hangs up the telephone, he tries to name Patrick. Patrick does not reply. … So, he sends him a textual content message: “Hey, there’s somebody with a supply.” Max by no means hears from Patrick once more after that. He by no means solutions, by no means responds.
Meanwhile Max and Jessica saved calling Patrick with no luck. Jessica feared the worst due to these disturbing threats the couple had obtained.
Peter Van Sant: You’re pondering he is been harmed?
Jessica Devnani: Yes. Yes. For positive.
Max and Jessica rushed to the home. She obtained there first.
Jessica Devnani: I’m approaching the entrance door and that is the place his physique laid. … Patrick simply laying there on this huge pool of blood and simply — he was simply lifeless.
Soon after Jessica found her fiancé’s physique, Patrick’s dad arrived. He took “48 Hours” again to the crime scene with Jessica.
Max De La Cerda: My son was mendacity down there [pointing to the floor inside the doorway]. His head was proper there. His foot had been nonetheless on prime of this [tapping the second step of the staircase], in order that signifies that he fell again.
Peter Van Sant: And that tells you the gunman was proper right here [standing outside the front door]. … Because no bullet can take a right-hand flip.
Max De La Cerda: That tells me — precisely, precisely. That man was proper there. My son noticed this man, he circled and the man shot him as a result of my son was similar to this.
Max De La Cerda [laying on the floor the way Patrick was found]: My son was like this.
Peter Van Sant: Wow.
Detective Weaver’s workforce combed by way of the home. They quickly found that the killer had taken Patrick’s laptop and the exhausting drive from the house’s safety digital camera system. Investigators additionally recovered distinctive shell casings from 300 Blackout ammunition, bullets typically utilized in semi-automatic weapons like an AR-15.
Det. Chad Weaver: When we noticed the shell casings … with how shut they had been to the physique … Immediately realized that this was a calculated homicide. This was — this was deliberate.
But why would anybody wish to kill Patrick De La Cerda? Weaver discovered a couple of weird incident in 2017.
WKMG NEWS REPORT: In an odd twist, News6 has found the younger man has been shot at earlier than …
When Patrick known as police, saying his neighbor had fired some bullets after arguments forwards and backwards about trespassing. Patrick wasn’t harmed.
Det. Chad Weaver: There had been some complaints. … And Patrick felt that the neighbor was taking pictures in direction of their home.
There’s night time footage of the person being tackled and arrested by police for that incident. It was an intriguing lead till Weaver discovered the person was in custody on the day Patrick was murdered.
Det. Chad Weaver: We had been in a position to test him off the checklist.
Detective Weaver then centered on some ominous voicemails that had been found:
GREGORY BENDER VOICEMAIL: “Call me again, speak to me.”
…. which led them to a person that Patrick and Jessica knew fairly effectively.
GREGORY BENDER VOICEMAIL: “I’ll speak to you quickly, I hope.”
Jessica Devnani: I used to be actually scared as a result of. … Like, he was at all times shadowing my life.
A pair in love with all the pieces in entrance of them, desires of marriage and household about to return true.
Then got here February 27, 2018. When Jessica Devnani came across her fiancé, Patrick De La Cerda in a pool of blood at his house shot 4 instances at shut vary by an murderer.
Jessica Devnani: I believe my thoughts simply does not wish to settle for it … My complete future was taken away. My complete world was taken away.
The ambush style-assault of Patrick made it look like the killer was mendacity in wait. Detective Chad Weaver hoped Jessica might need a lead that will bounce begin his investigation.
Det. Chad Weaver: And we had been chatting with her about any enemies or any issues with anybody, you already know, that Patrick had had.
The detective discovered that there was somebody who wasn’t pleased with Jessica and Patrick’s whirlwind romance.
Peter Van Sant: Who was that particular person?
Jessica Devnani: My ex, Gregory Bender.
Jessica advised Detective Weaver that proper earlier than she met Patrick, she broke up with Bender, her ex-boyfriend of eight years. It was a breakup that he was not pleased with.
Jessica Devnani: He was not accepting of it—it is virtually like he by no means left. Like he was shadowing my life, like he was not accepting of it in any respect.
Det. Chad Weaver: He was very controlling.
And as Weaver was about to study, Jessica and Bender had a really difficult, love-hate sort of relationship over the eight years they had been collectively.
Jessica Devnani: He could possibly be very charming and manipulative.
At 42 years outdated, Bender was virtually twice Jessica’s age once they first met on-line in 2009. He was a profitable hedge fund supervisor who lived on this home in Windemere, a rich suburb exterior of Orlando.
Jessica Devnani: He had a really charismatic persona. He was very clever. … It felt like we might identified one another all our lives. He grew to become my finest buddy.
Peter Van Sant: Was he a down-to-earth sort of man?
Jessica Devnani: Not a lot within the sense that he did like to point out off. … He beloved quick automobiles and he beloved weapons as effectively.
But what, if something, did Gregory Bender must do with Patrick’s demise? Detective Weaver needed to know extra.
Det. Chad Weaver: Patrick was center class, blue collar, hard-working younger man. Gregory, then again, who’s white collar, effectively educated, lived in a 3 quarter of 1,000,000 greenback home … Totally completely different individuals from completely completely different walks of life.
Jessica advised the detective that Greg Bender merely could not tolerate the thought of every other man in her life. She advised a narrative about what occurred when she briefly dated another person after first assembly Greg.
Jessica Devnani: He did stalk the individual that I used to be relationship. And he described precisely the place he lived. And he mentioned that he would tie him up and hurt him.
Peter Van Sant: So, a relationship that had love in it now had a little bit little bit of terror in it.
Jessica Devnani: I by no means feared what he might do to me, however I feared what he might do to different males.
Despite his jealousness and verbal threats, Jessica accepted Greg’s proposal to marry just a few years into their relationship.
Jessica Devnani: I used to be in love with him on the time. And perhaps I used to be a little bit bit naive on the time. I did not wish to discover another person.
And there’s one other twist in Jessica’s twisted relationship with Gregory. In early 2016, he was having a process accomplished at an area hospital. Jessica determined to drop by for a shock go to. When she entered his room,was there.
Jessica Devnani: I used to be like, “what’s she doing right here?” And she’s like, “What are you doing right here?” … And I advised her, I’m like his fiancée and I confirmed her the ring. And then she confirmed me her ring. She’s like, “I’m his spouse!”
She was Daymara Sanchez.
Peter Van Sant: He’s secretly married to this girl?
Jessica Devnani: Yes. … My coronary heart simply dropped. I could not imagine it. I used to be in shock.
Several days handed when Bender lastly known as Jessica, and tried to elucidate that he had solely married Sanchez so her son might go to high school within the district the place his home was situated.
Jessica Devnani: And he mentioned, “I’m so sorry.” … And he advised me that he had solely married her, as like, a enterprise marriage. He was simply making an attempt to assist her out they usually had an association collectively.
At that time, Jessica had kind of had sufficient.
Peter Van Sant: So, you find yourself giving Greg Bender an ultimatum. What was that?
Jessica Devnani: Yes, I advised him that he had till the tip of the yr to depart her.
Peter Van Sant: He needed to divorce her, not solely depart however divorce.
Jessica Devnani: Yes.
But that “enterprise marriage” line was simply one other of Bender’s lies and he stayed married to Sanchez. With that, Jessica lastly ended the connection in 2017. One month later, Jessica met Patrick and commenced relationship him. But Bender was typically on her thoughts.
Jessica Devnani: I used to be afraid that he would discover out about our relationship.
But simply 5 months after dumping him…
Jessica Devnani: Gregory Bender…got here throughout our Facebook web page.
Jessica Devnani: He instantly began messaging Patrick on his Facebook, threatening him … And he mentioned, “I do know the place you reside. I’m going to hurt you guys.”
Bender left ominous voicemails like this one:
GREGORY BENDER: “I’m giving directions. And I’m going to have my plan put into motion.”
Peter Van Sant: What’s he speaking about?
Jessica Devnani: At that cut-off date, he had talked about to me that he was going to rent successful man…or he was going to do the job himself.
Peter Van Sant: And what job was that?
Jessica Devnani: To kill Patrick.
Enough was sufficient. Jessica and Patrick had these tapes and textual content messages introduced to a decide who issued a restraining order. Bender was ordered to avoid Jessica and switch in his massive assortment of firearms to authorities.
Peter Van Sant: Did Greg Bender go away?
Jessica Devnani: We thought he did go away. We did not hear something. And we felt assured.
Until she advised Detective Weaver that on the morning of Patrick’s homicide, Gregory Bender known as for the primary time in two months.
Jessica Devnani: He known as my job that very morning.
But Jessica mentioned she did not reply.
Det. Chad Weaver: So, when she obtained the telephone name and noticed on the caller ID that it was Gregory Bender, flags began going up and that is what made her so fearful.
Flags had been additionally going up for Detective Weaver. He believed he now had a major suspect in Patrick’s demise. And, Weaver had an concept; now was the time for Jessica to return Bender’s calls and investigators would hear in.
Det. Chad Weaver: She actually needed to resolve Patrick’s homicide, so she did that with out hesitation.
DET. WEAVER: OK, name him and put him on speakerphone.
GREGORY BENDER: Hello.
JESSICA DEVNANI: Hello.
Detective Weaver was hopeful Bender may say one thing to implicate himself:
JESSICA DEVNANI: You ruined my life. … You obtained your revenge, and also you ruined my life.
GREGORY BENDER: What are you speaking about?
THE MURDER PLAN
It was a tense, awkward second. Just just a few hours after she’d seen her fiancé’s physique, investigators’ requested Jessica Devnani to name the person they thought could have murdered him. Gregory Bender rapidly spoke up.
GREGORY BENDER: I noticed what occurred on the information, I wish to let you know, I really feel sorry for you.
Jessica Devnani: I simply needed to attempt to do all the pieces I might to assist the investigation.
She reminded Bender about his earlier threats.
JESSICA DEVNANI: You mentioned, “Enough is sufficient. I can not do that. I’m going to rent a hitman. I’m gonna kill him.”
GREGORY BENDER: No. That’s not. No, no, no, I did not say that.
Peter Van Sant: Did you ask him outright, “did you shoot Patrick?”
Jessica Devnani: I did.
JESSICA DEVNANI: But that is why I wish to discover out whether it is you, like …
GREGORY BENDER: No, it is not. I’m your buddy. I didn’t do that.
Peter Van Sant: Could you inform he was mendacity to you?
Jessica Devnani: Yes, I might inform he was mendacity.
While Bender denied any involvement in Patrick’s demise, Detective Chad Weaver says there was sufficient proof to arrest him: not for homicide, however for violating that restraining order.
Det. Chad Weaver: We had seen that he …. tried to contact her twice at work, which we discovered was a violation of that injunction.
Even with Bender behind bars for the night time, Detective Weaver did not have a lot to hyperlink him to Patrick’s homicide. Then he obtained a telephone name from the lawyer of Bender’s now ex-wife Daymara Sanchez — the lady Jessica had first met within the hospital.
Det. Chad Weaver: And he mentioned … “She has some info that shall be beneficial to your case.”
Sanchez requested to satisfy Detective Weaver in a car parking zone.
Det. Chad Weaver: She’s very, very nervous. … She did not need us coming to her home.
It seems Sanchez had a fairly good purpose to be nervous. She was about to offer a vital piece of proof.
Det. Chad Weaver: So, we spoke along with her, she had advised us that … her and Gregory had gotten a divorce and she or he had moved out in December of 2017. Around that very same time, she had found what she believed to be a homicide plan in a spiral pocket book that she had seen Gregory writing in previously.
A homicide plan, handwritten in a pocket book detailing an elaborate plot to kill. Sanchez mentioned when she confronted Bender about it, he advised her it was all a fantasy. And she forgot about it till she noticed the report that the person Bender was supposedly fantasizing about killing had simply been murdered.
Det. Chad Weaver: Once she advised us in regards to the homicide plan, that gave us what we would have liked to get into the home to see, you already know, what else was in there.
Volusia County Prosecutor Ashley Terwilleger says studying in regards to the homicide plan was a possible recreation changer — if investigators might discover it.
Ashley Terwilleger: So, the subsequent day, February 28 of 2018, they execute the search warrant at Gregory Bender’s house in Orange County, Florida, in Windemere.
Detective Weaver had some doubts. But virtually as quickly as he entered Bender’s home, Weaver hit paydirt. He noticed a number of balls of crumpled-up notice paper.
Det. Chad Weaver: I regarded within the trash can and … I used to be in shock, there is no manner that we simply discovered this homicide plan. The very first thing I needed to do was attain within the trash can, seize it.
Weaver properly held off whereas this paper was bagged and tagged for forensics. Later, when he was in a position to learn the plan, it was simply as Sanchez mentioned — an in depth highway map for murdering Patrick De La Cerda.
Det. Chad Weaver: Some of the primary issues in it had been instructions. … It truly had Patrick De La Cerda’s tackle. Howland Boulevard.
Weaver took “48 Hours” to the crime scene to elucidate how the plan matched the precise homicide.
Det. Chad Weaver: This highway leads down the aspect of the property, it is off of Howland Boulevard. This is necessary due to the grime highway that was drawn on the homicide plan runs down the aspect of the property. … It’s fairly closely wooded down this manner, so I believe he walked on foot till he obtained to this opening and that is the world, we imagine Gregory Bender accessed to sneak up on our sufferer. … The sketch of the property was spot on.
The plan was proof of Bender’s obsession with element and compulsion to kill, says Weaver.
The plan learn: “Put duct tape on the underside of a second pair of footwear so no tread prints” … “watch for affirm that he’s alone. Then flip off cell telephones” … “and dispose of garments, plate, tracker, gloves”
With the homicide plan in hand, Weaver had a robust case towards Bender. And with the invention of this ammunition, there was now a direct hyperlink to these distinctive bullet shells discovered on the scene.
Ashley Terwilleger: They discover that arsenal of 300-blackout ammunition.
Remember, Patrick was shot 4 instances with that sort of distinctive ammo, however solely two shell casings had been recovered on the crime scene. That’s what made one other discovery by investigators at Bender’s home so necessary.
Ashley Terwilleger: They discover a shell casing in a desk drawer, primarily a junk drawer.
Det. Chad Weaver: The casing … matched the 2 recovered shell casings from the crime scene. … Short of truly discovering the homicide weapon, um for my part, I believe that was in all probability crucial piece of proof that we discovered.
That’s as a result of the homicide weapon has by no means been recovered, though Jessica remembers seeing a robust rifle at Bender’s home once they dated.
Peter Van Sant: The AR-15, this semi-automatic rifle. Did he have a type of?
Jessica Devnani: Yes, he did.
Det. Chad Weaver: I believe it is in all probability on the backside of a lake someplace.
The proof was overwhelming – Weaver now had a transparent and concise principle of the crime.
Det. Chad Weaver: Greg Bender was mendacity in wait within the bushes, simply out of view. He made the telephone name posing as a supply man. Patrick receives a textual content message simply pondering that he has a bundle.
Det. Chad Weaver: And as Patrick answered the door, he shot and killed him.
Less than 48 hours after Patrick’s demise, an arrest warrant was issued for Gregory Bender, charging him with the homicide. Volusia County sheriff’s deputies had a simple time finding their suspect, who had been launched from jail after violating that restraining order. Bender was in his personal entrance yard, says prosecutor Andrew Urbanak.
Andy Urbanak: Mr. Bender truly confirmed up, bonded out from the Orange County jail simply a short while after they began executing that warrant.
Det. Chad Weaver: You cannot make these items up.
For Patrick’s mom, the arrest is simply step one towards a person she despises.
Patricia Ronze: Psychopath, that is what he’s. … You need me to say his title? I’ll by no means pronounce his title. I do not wish to pronounce his title. That is hurting my mouth to simply say his title.
Peter Van Sant: Why did Patrick must die?
Jessica Devnani: Just out of jealousy of a person that was obsessed … and he thought that, by doing this, that I might return to him.
But with no weapon, no eyewitnesses, and no DNA on the crime scene …
Richard Parker | Defense lawyer: Ultimately, this case … is a circumstantial case.
… Bender and his attorneys are planning a vigorous trial protection.
And.utilizing undercover video shot by a non-public eye, they plan to problem Jessica on the stand about the true nature of her relationship with Greg Bender.
RICHARD PARKER [to Jessica in court]: You began relationship Patrick in June. Why are you eating with Greg and going to Greg’s home in November of 2017 for those who’re fortunately shifting on with Patrick?
THE MURDER TRIAL
Two months after Patrick De La Cerda was gunned down as he went to his entrance door anticipating to choose up that engagement ring for Jessica Devnani, she was lastly in a position to placed on the ring at her thirtieth birthday celebration — a shock lastly delivered by Patrick’s household.
Jessica Devnani: … he obtained me the right ring.
Peter Van Sant: Why do you put on that ring right this moment?
Jessica Devnani: I put on it as a result of Patrick will at all times be the love of my life.
And Jessica shall be sporting the ring on the homicide trial of Gregory Bender, her former boyfriend, who stands accused of stalking and killing the person she had hoped to marry.
This day couldn’t have come quickly sufficient, says Patrick’s devastated mom, Patricia.
Patricia Ronze: Jessica and I — we felt victimized each single day for 3 years-and-a-half as a result of now we have no voice, completely no voice.
Prosecutor Ashley Terwilliger is now the voice Patrick’s family members had longed for as she started her opening assertion.
ASHLEY TERWILLIGER: Patrick de la Cerda was the sufferer of a homicide, An in depth and meticulously thought-out homicide plan and a tragic ending by which he was shot 4 instances within the head, face, chest and hip.
Defense lawyer Richard Parker says the state’s case isn’t any slam dunk.
RICHARD PARKER: We will present that there is greater than only one or two those who have motive and alternative on this case.
Jessica is the prosecution’s star witness and would be the first to testify.
Jessica Devnani: It was actually exhausting. I used to be actually nervous.
Jessica describes for the jury how Gregory Bender was a person consumed by jealousy, who made many threats.
JESSICA DEVNANI: He would message me saying if I did not depart Patrick, he would hurt Patrick.
And Jessica learn a type of threatening texts for the jury:
JESSICA DEVNANI: “Think about it. If I do not hear from you or the cops name once more, I’ll simply do what I mentioned and transfer on.”
Jurors discovered that Bender went to extraordinary lengths to poison Jessica and Patrick’s relationship. On secretly recorded video, it seems Bender and Jessica are at lunch, after which every week later at a restaurant having fun with dinner, only a few months after she began relationship Patrick.
PROSECUTOR ANDREW URBANAK: Did you truly see these movies?
JESSICA DEVNANI: I did.
The encounters had been captured by a non-public investigator employed by Bender. There’s a scene of the 2 of them coming into and leaving Bender’s house. He’s seen rubbing Jessica’s leg for the digital camera; they maintain arms, and he leans in for a kiss.
Jessica Devnani: I felt actually odd as a result of I felt like he was making an attempt to placed on a present wanting again, as a result of he saved, like, making an attempt to get near me. … like making an attempt to carry my hand, which he by no means used to do. … I used to be like, “what are you doing?” I used to be like, “we’re simply pals proper now. … what are you making an attempt to do?”
But prosecutors say the video was all a setup.
ANDREW URBANAK: What did he do with it?
JESSICA DEVNANI: He had given it to Patrick.
ANDREW URBANAK: Did that trigger some strife between you and Patrick and your relationship?
JESSICA DEVNANI: Yes.
JESSICA DEVNANI: We had a struggle and we had broke up for just a few days.
ANDREW URBANAK: Did the 2 of you find yourself getting again collectively after that?
JESSICA DEVNANI: Yes.
Defense attorneys tried to make use of their shopper’s video manufacturing to persuade jurors that Jessica and Bender truly had been extra than simply pals.
RICHARD PARKER: Why are you eating with Greg and going to Greg’s home in November of 2017 for those who’re fortunately shifting on with Patrick?
JESSICA DEVNANI: Because the defendant was threatening, and I used to be making an attempt to calm him down. And he mentioned that if I went to see him, he wouldn’t hurt anybody.
The protection tries one other tactic. Making what prosecutors say is an unfounded allegation that Patrick’s father Max was drawn to Jessica.
RICHARD PARKER [to Jessica]: Did Max De La Cerda remark in a really constructive manner relating to your look?
ANDREW URBANAK: Same objection decide, nonetheless a rumour assertion.
DEFENSE [to Max De La Cerda]: Would you say you had relationship along with her?
MAX DE LA CERDA: I did not have any relationship along with her in any respect!
That led to a combative cross examination when Max took the stand.
MAX DE LA CERDA: What you’re asking me is not sensible! … I do not assume that has nothing to do with Patrick’s homicide.
And the protection implied he could have had the motive…. and the chance to kill his personal son due to discrepancies of his whereabouts that day.
RICHARD PARKER: Your girlfriend mentioned that you just had been in reality staying along with her//is it her reminiscence that is flawed or is it yours?
MAX DE LA CERDA: It is likely to be mine, sir. I’m always on the go. I work right here, I work there, I do not maintain monitor of telephones, I do not maintain monitor of time. … so, what level are you making an attempt to make? I do not know!
Ashley Terwilleger: They needed in charge it on Max and you’ll inform … he is indignant that his son was killed unnecessarily, violently, horrifically and now he must be in a room together with his son’s killer.
Throughout the trial, Bender remained stoic till his ex-wife Daymara Sanchez took the stand and spoke by way of an interpreter.
ANDREW URBANAK: Were you married to Mr. Bender?
DAYMARA SANCHEZ: Yes.
During Sanchez’ testimony, Bender broke down, exhibiting emotion for the primary time within the trial.
And jurors heard her audio interview with Weaver in regards to the homicide plan.
DAYMARA SANCHEZ: It was a plan to kill the man.
DET. CHAD WEAVER: The man is Patrick?
DAYMARA SANCHEZ: Yes.
During a break in her testimony, Bender seems to say “I really like you” to somebody … within the gallery and is admonished by an official.
Bender mouths “I really like you”
COURT OFFICIAL: Don’t speak to anyone within the courtroom.
When Detective Weaver took the stand, the protection grilled him in regards to the lack of forensic proof within the case.
RICHARD PARKER: How about any hair or pores and skin or DNA, something like that from the scene that was useful to your investigation?
DET. CHAD WEAVER: Uh, no, sir.
Prosecutors responded by calling mobile phone specialists who might join Gregory Bender’s private telephone to a burner telephone that was tracked to a cell tower close to the homicide scene.
ASHLEY TERWILLEGER: So, the burner telephone … is the cellphone that made the decision to Max De La Cerda that morning at 7:18 a.m.?
SGT. AMRHINE: Yes
ANDY URBANAK: The state would relaxation at the moment.
After the prosecution rested, Gregory Bender selected to not testify.
JUDGE: Are you comfy with the choice you made?
RICHARD PARKER: Yes.
ANDY URBANAK: Thank you, your honor.
JUDGE: Thank you.
For closing arguments, prosecutors mentioned Gregory Bender was the one one who had motive to kill Patrick.
ANDY URBANAK: He could not take that Jessica left him and would not come again to him due to Patrick De La Cerda.
In his closing, protection lawyer Richard Parker insisted that Bender’s homicide plan didn’t equate to guilt.
RICHARD PARKER: This case is in regards to the distinction between a fantasy and actuality.
RICHARD PARKER: People shouldn’t be judged on their worst ideas simply because they put them to paper. But that is what they’re doing on this case.
Finally, after 4 days of testimony, the case went to the jury. Prosecutor Andy Urbanak was unsure about what verdict they’d come again with.
Andy Urbanak: Once it goes to a jury, we won’t make any ensures.
But Jessica Devnani was assured a responsible verdict would lastly put an finish to Bender’s reign of terror.
JUDGE: It’s my understanding you could have a verdict…
Jessica Devnani: I simply needed to see the expression on his face
Memories. Tender phrases from a son.
Max De La Cerda: This is from a Christmas card that he gave me. “Dad, with all my love, thanks for at all times being there for me. To many extra years. Love, Patrick. [crying].
Max De La Cerda surrounds himself with reminders of his son, taken violently, and much too quickly.
Max De La Cerda: I really feel my son’s presence right here. I have never moved his stuff, I have never, you already know, all the pieces is just about the identical as a result of I really like this child a lot, man.
Patricia Ronze: The solely purpose it makes me really feel higher, is … I misplaced my baby for love.
Patrick’s mom Patricia has discovered some solace in her struggling.
Patricia Ronze: He had love in his coronary heart when he handed, he was taking place the steps to get … the ring.
And Jessica Devnani nonetheless wears that very engagement ring, in honor of a wedding that by no means came about.
Jessica Devnani: It’s been a tough previous three years. I’ve been residing in respect to Patrick.
But now, Patrick’s family members huddle collectively, hoping lastly, three years after Patrick’s homicide, the jury will give them justice.
During 4 days of testimony, they relived the horror of his demise — listening to excruciating particulars of Bender’s homicide plan.
WITNESS: We can see the doorway wound on the appropriate aspect of the face.
JUDGE: It’s my understanding you could have a verdict. Is that right?
As the decision was about to be learn, Bender turned his head to Jessica.
Jessica Devnani: He was taking a look at me. … I do not know what was happening in his head.
JUDGE: Madame clerk, for those who can please learn the decision.
CLERK [reads verdict]: We the jury discover the defendant, Gregory Bender, as follows responsible of the cost of first-degree homicide as charged within the indictment.
Peter Van Sant: It’s responsible and his face does what?
Jessica Devnani: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
In Florida, a conviction of first-degree homicide carries an automated life sentence with out parole. So simply moments after the emotion of victory, Patrick’s family members are allowed to deal with the courtroom as Gregory Bender listens only a few ft away.
PATRICIA RONZE: And I wish to thank all of you for having put evil the place it belongs.
Jessica then spoke however selected not to have a look at her tormentor.
JESSICA DEVNANI: You won’t win. You have solely misplaced. I hope you’re feeling some peace Patrick. Rest assured the person who took your life goes to pay together with his personal life now.
Then it was Max’s flip.
MAX DE LA CERDA: I’ll miss my son. … And I remorse that I wasn’t there for him to save lots of him (cries).
Remember that through the trial, the protection shamefully tried to counsel that Max could have been concerned in his son’s homicide.
MAX DE LA CERDA [addressing Bender]: I hope they maintain you in jail till you die there, till you die. Because the second you step out, I’m going to complete you off. I’m going to peel you want an onion. The identical factor you probably did to my son.
ANDREW URBANAK: Mr. De La Cerda, Max, you must tackle the decide, you must tackle the decide.
MAX DE LA CERDA: You perceive that?
ANDREW URBANAK: … tackle the decide.
MAX DE LA CERDA: And I’ll miss my son. … he was an attractive soul. A stupendous child.
And with that, Gregory Bender was carted off to jail for the remainder of his life.
Jessica Devnani: He misplaced all the pieces. … He’s not going to win once more, ever once more.
Jessica and Patricia are indignant that this restraining order they felt would provide safety for Patrick, turned out to be nugatory.
Patricia Ronze: My son can be right this moment alive if the restraining order had been enforced by the regulation enforcement.
Bender had been ordered to show over his gun assortment to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He by no means did … and with out possible trigger for a search warrant, regulation enforcement lacked the authority to grab these weapons
Jessica Devnani: It failed us. It failed Patrick.
Now behind bars, the times of Gregory Bender lurking within the shadows of Jessica’s life are lastly over.
Peter Van Sant: Will you go on with life, as Patrick would really like you to do?
Jessica Devnani: I’ll. I’ll go on for Patrick. I’ll reside in his blissful recollections near my coronary heart.
One week after Greg Bender’s conviction, was what would have been Patrick’s twenty ninth birthday.
Jessica Devnani: Patrick’s mother and I, we went out to the cemetery in West Palm Beach and we simply celebrated his life. We introduced some cake, and we introduced some champagne.
Peter Van Sant: And what did you say to Patrick on this birthday once you had been at his grave?
Jessica Devnani: I mentioned … “we lastly did it. We obtained the responsible verdict.” … We at all times inform him we love him. … We will at all times love him.
Gregory Bender’s attorneys say they plan to enchantment his conviction.
They contend the search of his home that produced the homicide plan was unlawful.
Produced by Chris O’Connell. Tamara Weitzman is the event producer. Jordan Kinsey is the sphere producer. Marlon Disla, Ken Blum and Grayce Arlotta-Berner are the editors. Kayla Laine is the affiliate producer. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.
Source: CBS News