January 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Unhinged By Wife’s Lesbian Affair, Defendant Says Crime Novelist Other Woman In Attempted Murder Case

Associated Press
 

Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell was named as the other woman in the attempted-murder trial of a former FBI agent who says he became unhinged when his wife had a lesbian affair with the author.

The testimony came at the trial of Eugene Bennett, who is accused of trying to ambush his wife, Marguerite, at a darkened church last June.

He has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, claiming his wife’s affair with Cornwell led to the breakup of their marriage and drove him temporarily insane.

Marguerite Bennett, also a former FBI agent, testified Wednesday that she had “two intimate contacts” with Cornwell in 1992 when the writer was going through FBI training as research for her books about a sleuthing Virginia coroner.

Cornwell, whose best sellers include “Body Farm” and “Cruel and Unusual,” has said only that she and Marguerite Bennett were close friends. Bennett’s lawyers say he was humiliated by the knowledge that his wife left him for a woman. They say he suffers from blackouts and a split personality and wrestles with an evil alter ego named Ed.

According to police, Bennett took his wife’s minister hostage and forced the man to lure Marguerite Bennett to a church. Bennett said that when she arrived, her husband jumped out at her with a gun and she squirted him with pepper spray.

Bennett was later arrested at his home. He told officers he could not surrender before quelling Ed. When Bennett emerged, he told police he had locked Ed in the garage.

Bennett, 42, could get life in prison if convicted.

In 1992, Marguerite Bennett accused her husband of $17,000 fraud on official FBI expenses then lied on the witness stand to protect him the next year.

Marguerite Bennett said Wednesday that she lied only because he assaulted her with a stun gun before the trial, bound and gagged her for two days and said she would never see their daughters again unless she cooperated with him.

The judge in that case declared a mistrial, but Bennett later pleaded guilty and served a year in prison.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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