I-Team: Man who killed young daughter agrees to plea deal

I-Team

HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — A man who killed his three-year-old daughter agreed to a plea deal and dodged the death penalty. The I-Team has been following Abygaile Bennett’s story and tracked down details on the new agreement.

Justin Bennett admitted he beat his daughter repeatedly and killed her. Prosecutors will now recommend a prison sentence of 50 years to life instead of pursuing the death penalty.

WARNING: Some of the content in this report is graphic and disturbing.

“The first person that came to mind was Justin,” said Bernadine Morimoto, Abygaile’s grandmother, during an interview in with the I-Team in 2018.

Abygaile was beaten so badly her heart exploded, and she was suffering from a broken back and broken ribs days before she died.

This is video of Bennett forcing a hot pepper in her mouth as punishment.

WARNING: The following footage is graphic in nature and may be disturbing to watch.

The children’s mother told police she tried recording the abuse for proof so she could get custody of her children.

“It sickens me, the things my granddaughters went through,” said Morimoto. She sat down for an exclusive interview with the I-Team in 2018. She’s the maternal grandmother of Abygaile and her two sisters.

Bennett, the girls’ father, was arrested after the murder. In a new agreement, he is pleading guilty to 32 counts, including murder, child abuse and more.

If a judge signs off on the plea deal, Bennett, who is now 26-years-old, would be eligible for parole in his 70s. Before the plea deal, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.

“When you go to trial, it’s always a gamble,” noted Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.

Wolfson revealed Bennett’s attorneys presented credible information he suffers from mental health issues. The alleged issues were not specified.

“The human reaction is revenge or the worst kind of punishment possible,” said Wolfson, “but as lawyers, we have to consider that there will be a second side to the story.”

The I-Team has previously reported on how Child Protective Services also failed Abygaile. Morimoto tried to warn CPS and Metro Police that Abygaile and her sisters were in danger. CPS outsourced the case to an agency which doesn’t typically handle abuse cases.

Abygaile’s death is one of the worst child abuse cases in Clark County. The county awarded her family with a $100,000 settlement in 2019.

The I-Team put in a request to interview Bennett in jail today, but he declined.

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