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Guilty verdict in Craig Ingersoll murder trial

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The jury in the murder trial of 30-year-old Craig Ingersoll returned a guilty verdict in about an hour and a half Tuesday afternoon.

They found him guilty of the following charges: Murder and Criminal Sexual Act.

Prosecutors say Ingersoll paid victim Jennifer Bennett for sex then strangled her unconscious after she refused to honor a specific sexual request and then dumped her body at the Deerfield Fire Department in January of 2007. A group of sledders found Bennett's body behind the firehouse.

"He took my beautiful daughter away. He took the chances of her children having their mother. They were looking forward to her getting straightened up and coming back and...that's all they wanted was their mom," says Jennifer Bennett's mother, Denise Saunders.

During his 20-minute closing argument, Defense Attorney Luke Nebush reminded jurors, as did graphic crime scene photos of Bennett's bruised, half-naked body, that her dangerous lifestyle had a costly price. Bennett was a crack addict who turned to prostitution to support her addiction. Nebush says his office put a lot of time into the case, and he wishes the jury put more than an hour and a half into the verdict.

"I wish they would have taken a little bit more time to consider the evidence that was presented and the evidence that wasn't presented," said Nebush.

Ingersoll admitted during a videotaped interview with police that he choked her after she refused to honor a sexual request. He then said he dragged her body out of his truck, far enough away from it for him to drive around her and out of the firehouse. Defense Attorney Nebush said it wasn't until Ingersoll was provided detail by investigators that he wove a story that went along with what they were telling him.

As to why his client would admit to anything he didn't do...

"Obviously that was the biggest hurdle in our case,"
responded Nebush.

While Denise Saunders is happy that her daughter's killer will be brought to justice nearly six years after her brutal murder, she says it's her daughter's four children who pay the highest price of all.

"Her oldest son is 16. He's six foot four and a half. Very big boy. He cries for his mother like a young baby."

Craig Ingersoll will be sentenced in Oneida County Court January 22nd.

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