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Trial underway in Craig Ingersoll murder case

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Craig Ingersoll, 30, of Utica is taking his murder case to trial, and in opening arguments Monday afternoon, the prosecution told the jury who will decide his fate that DNA evidence proves he is guilty.

Prosecutors say Ingersoll raped and strangled 29 year old Jennifer Bennett, also of Utica, back in January of 2007, then left her to die behind the Deerfield Fire Department on Trenton Road.

Ingersoll is charged with second degree murder and committing a criminal sex act.

A local couple who had taken their young son sledding on the hill behind the Deerfield Fire Department found Bennet's body covered in snow.

Prosecutors say Bennet was bruised and had scratches on her back, legs, face and neck, and the autopsy showed a bone in her neck was fractured from strangulation.

Ingersoll, who was a former volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Utica pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny for using Habitat For Humanity's credit card for his own purchases.

Once he was sentenced for grand larceny, Ingersoll had to submit a DNA sample, and prosecutors say that sample in the statewide DNA database was found to be an exact match as the DNA from strands of hair found on Jennifer Bennett's body.

Lisi told the jury that Bennett had become addicted to crack cocaine and as a result lost her husband and custody of her young children, and, having no job, became a prostitute to support her drug addiction, and she met Ingersoll, a 'john', the night she was murdered.

Lisi says Ingersoll was interviewed on videotape in March of this year by Oneida County Sheriff's investigators.

She told the jury to listen to that interview closely when it's played during the trial. She says at first during the interview Ingersoll said he didn't know Bennett, but then later in the interview changed his story, "He did admit knowing Jennifer Bennett. He met her the night she was killed, he did have sex with her, first consensually, but then ultimately by forceful compulsion. He admits to choking her, while having non consensual anal sex. Indeed choking her until unconsioucness, dragging her lifeless body from his truck and leaving her behind the fire department."

During his opening arguments, Ingersoll's attorney, Oneida County Assistant Public Defender Luke Nebush told the jury to listen to all of the evidence and consider the the lack of evidence, "You will see that the evidence presented will tell a different story than what the investigators and the district attorney will have you believe. It will actually show that Craig is not guilty of sexual abuse in the 1st degree and thereby not guilty of murder in second degree. You will have no choice but to find Craig Ingersolll not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Before the jury selection process began Monday morning, Prosecutor Laurie Lisi asked Oneida County Court Judge Barry Donalty to allow the grand larceny arrest and other arrests Ingersoll faced in his past to be brought up at trial.

Donalty allowed all but one to be brought up, but only if Ingersoll testifies in his own defense.

Donalty's attorney, Oneida County Assistant Public Defender Luke Nebush did not say whether Ingersoll would actually take the stand in his own defense, but did tell Judge Donalty, he had no other people to call to the stand.

The prosecution does have a list of witnesses. The first witness is scheduled to take the stand Wednesday morning at 9:30.

The Court is closed on Tuesday for election day.

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