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Mohawk Valley

Ingersoll convicted in rape and murder cold case

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Ingersoll convicted in rape and murder cold case
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A cold case from 2007 left police and family members looking for answers for more than five years in the death of Jennifer Bennett. But as our Andrew Sorensen tells us, this week, they not only have answers, but some long-awaited closure.

UTICA, N.Y. -- As the call of "guilty," rang, sobs broke out across the courtroom. It took more than five years for Jennifer Bennett's family to see this day.

"I always hoped I would. It got a little less as the years went by, but I always hoped," Jennifer Bennett's mother, Denise Saunders, said.

In January 2007, Bennett, a prostitute, was found dead behind the Deerfield Fire Department, only partially clothed, with crack and pain killers in her system.

On Tuesday, closure set in as Craig Ingersoll, who showed little emotion throughout the trial, was found guilty of raping and killing her.

"He took my beautiful daughter away, he took the chances of her children having their mother," Saunders said.

But it was a long road to conviction. I took investigators until earlier this year to identify Ingersoll from a single strand of hair on Bennett's back. Evidence quickly mounted on Ingersoll.

"I had the mindset of, 'I already gave you money, I want to do whatever I want,'" Ingersoll said during a taped police interview.

In the tape, Ingersoll admits choking Bennett, an act the coroner says eventually killed her. He also admits to forcing her into sexual acts and leaving her unconscious body behind the fire department, but he said he didn't know what happened.

"He didn't know why she was unconscious," explained Ingersoll's defense lawyer, Luke Nebush. "And he pulled her from the vehicle. It wasn't until he was provided with facts from the investigators, that's what my argument is based on, that he gave a story."

His defense questioned the lack of defensive wounds and bloodshot eyes that a choking victim would have. The Assistant District Attorney said that's likely because of the drugs Bennett was on.

The jury took only about an hour to bring back the verdict and lift what Bennett's family described as a burden off their shoulders.

"I just want to say you're paying and when you leave this earth, you're going to pay more," her mother said.

Members of Ingersoll's family were also at the trial and were similarly emotional when the verdict came down, but they declined to comment.

Bennett's family says they're glad they can move on and remember Bennett for the kind person she was.

Ingersoll is due to be sentenced in Oneida County Court on January 22nd.

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