Guilty verdict in murder linked to sex tape in 2017
A jury recently found a National City man guilty of first-degree murder in the 2017 killing of an Ocean Beach man whose body has never been found.
Prosecutors alleged that Brian Eleron Hancock, 49, killed Peter Bentz, 69, believing Bentz had posted a video online of them having sex together and separately with a woman. Investigators never found the purported sex video, or Bentz’s computer or his body, which they believe was buried somewhere around Campo in rural East County.
Hancock was charged with one count of murder. Jurors in the case that was prosecuted in San Diego Superior Court began deliberations Wednesday after hearing more than two weeks of testimony.
Hancock faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison on the murder charge. He may face additional time after pleading guilty on Monday in two other cases: a 2018 charge of transporting methamphetamine for sale and a 2017 burglary of a business. His sentencing was set for Feb. 26.
He testified at his trial that he, Bentz and a female friend had sex at Bentz’s Greene Street apartment on Nov. 17, 2017. The woman later texted Hancock, saying she believed Bentz had made a recording of them and posted it online.
Hancock said he never saw the video, but he went to Bentz’s place to talk it over on Nov. 21. He said Bentz spoke of vacationing in Mexico, and they left on good terms after making a group sex video with two additional men. He said Bentz paid him for making the video by allowing him the use of his car and credit cards.
Prosecutors believe Hancock killed Bentz that day and spent several days cleaning up the apartment, removing living room area rugs and a computer. Investigators found the victim’s blood soaked into carpet beneath new area rugs. Hancock used Bentz’s credit cards to buy a shovel, cleaning products, an electric saw and a sharp hand tool.
Hancock’s wife and a girlfriend testified that he asked them to help get rid of Bentz’s body because it was too heavy for him to move alone. His wife said he told her he had stabbed Bentz seven times and later said he was worried that the body might be found because the grave was shallow near Golden Acorn Casino in Campo.
In recorded conversations with his wife from jail, he got angry because she had talked to police.
The prosecutor described Bentz as having a well-ordered life, going to the beach and the gym on alternate days. His last visit to his gym was on Nov. 20.
He failed to show up at his brother’s San Pedro home for Thanksgiving three days later, missed a friend’s birthday party and another get-together that week.
Hancock’s wife told investigators that she rode with him to Logan Heights in Bentz’s car and watched him toss a paper bag over a fence. Police found Bentz’s wallet in the bag, along with his ID and paper towels or napkins stained with his blood.
Police also found Bentz’s car abandoned in Mira Mesa.
— Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com
How to report graffiti in OB
If you see graffiti in Ocean Beach on public or private property, report it immediately to the Graffiti Control Program through online reporting or by calling the Graffiti Hotline at (619) 527-7500. Calls to Street Division Customer Service are confidential.
Serious injury by Sports Arena
At 4:04 p.m. Feb. 5 at 3555 Sports Arena Blvd., an 80-year-old male was driving a 2015 Toyota Prius westbound through the parking lot of the Home Depot. A 57-year-old male was traversing on the sidewalk adjacent the Home Depot. For undetermined reasons, the pedestrian walked into the path of the Toyota Prius and impacted the windshield of the vehicle. The 57-year-old was transported to the hospital by medics, where he is currently intubated and has internal bleeding. His injuries are considered life threatening. No evidence of impairment by either party. Traffic Division is investigating.
Assaults: 27 incidents
Arson: 3100 block Rosecrans Place, 2:14 p.m. Jan. 27
Drugs/Alcohol Violations: 88 citations
DUIs Drugs/Alcohol: 11 arrests
Fraud: 13 reports
Weapons: 3 altercations
Prostitution: 1 arrest — 3000 block Rosecrans, 9:30 p.m. Jan. 14
Other Sex Crimes: 3 arrests — 3000 block Rosecrans, 8:15 p.m. Jan. 14; 2800 block Sims, 3:45 p.m. Jan. 16; 3000 block Garrison, 6 a.m. Jan. 18
Residential Burglary: 5 reports — 4400 block Montalvo, 3:15 p.m. Jan. 23; 800 block Cohasset, 6 a.m. Jan. 27; 3200 block Kemper, 1:20 p.m. Jan. 28; 2700 block Somers, 5 p.m. Jan. 28; 3200 block Xenophon, 12:30 a.m. Feb. 4
Commercial Burglary: 7 reports — 3100 block Midway, 10:57 p.m. Jan. 13; 1100 block Rosecrans, 3:27 a.m. Jan. 16; 3600 block Midway, 3:17 a.m. Jan. 20; 1500 block Quivira, 11:30 p.m. Jan. 29; 4800 block North Harbor, 9:02 a.m. Feb. 2; Interstate 8 WB & West Mission Bay, 8:44 a.m. Feb. 3; 3900 block Polack, 9 p.m. Feb. 4
Commercial Robbery: 9 — 3500 block Sports Arena, 6:47 p.m. Jan. 21; 3400 block Midway, 5:15 p.m. Jan. 22; 5000 block Newport, 12:40 p.m. Jan. 24; 4800 block Niagara, 5:20 p.m. Jan. 25; 3300 block Rosecrans, 1 p.m. Jan. 26; 2400 block Truxtun, 11:54 a.m. Jan. 28; 3900 block West Point Loma, 3:12 p.m. Jan. 28; Niagara and Sunset Cliffs, 5:42 a.m. Feb. 5; 3900 block West Point Loma, 6:02 p.m. Feb. 7;
Other Robbery: 1200 block West Mission Bay, 12:35 p.m. Jan. 26
Street Robberies: 2 — 3500 block Sports Arena, 7:41 p.m. Jan. 23; 3600 block Midway, 8:38 p.m. Jan. 23
Grand Theft (over $950): 15 reports
Petty Theft/Shoplifting: 35 reports
Vandalism: 20 incidents
Vehicle Break-ins: 29 reports
Vehicle Theft: 23 reports
— Compiled by Savanah Duffy from San Diego Police reports