PORTLAND – Prosecutors said in court Friday that a Portland teenager accused of murder in the death of his girlfriend acknowledged responsibility, saying in a conversation with his father that his gun just “went off” and killed the girl.
Authorities say 16-year-old Parrish Bennette Jr. fatally shot his 14-year-old girlfriend, Yashanee Vaughn, in mid-March, then hid her body. Vaughn was reported missing by her mother on March 19.
Bennette has pleaded not guilty and has denied confessing to his father, Parrish Bennette Sr.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Brian Davidson argued Friday that Bennette should remain in custody throughout the trial.
A Portland police detective testifying at Bennette’s bail hearing said evidence shows that pools of blood soaked through carpet in the teen’s bedroom.
Portland police Detective Mark Slater said a forensic search also revealed blood stains on the walls in “wiping, swirling patterns,” reflecting a cleanup attempt.
Also found in Bennette’s room and a hall closet: isopropyl alcohol and bleach, which Slater said were used to try to clean the traces of blood.
“(Bennette’s) father said he smelled a strong odor of bleach coming from his son’s room the next day (after Vaughn’s disappearance),” Slater testified.
Fluid inside a vacuum cleaner found in the home also had traces of human blood.
Bennette maintained a tight smile in court Friday and looked at the 40 or so people gathered in the courtroom, most of them family or supporters of Vaughn.
When he turned and sat at the defense table, he began to laugh.
Deputies warned spectators to stay calm during the proceedings. One of the men in the gallery was led out of the courtroom after shouting at Bennette.
In interviews with homicide detectives, Bennette said he didn’t know what happened to Vaughn, saying she walked off toward a light rail train after he bought her dinner at a Taco Bell on March 19.
But cellphone tower records show activity from Vaughn’s phone at Bennette’s house half an hour after he said she walked to the train.
According to Slater’s testimony, Bennette told his father that the gun went off, killing Vaughn. When confronted with that information in an interview at the Portland Police Bureau after Vaughn’s disappearance, Bennette crumpled.
“It was like an instant reaction,” Slater testified. “He said his stomach hurt, and he continued to say it hurt.”
Slater said Bennette denied telling his father that he shot Vaughn.
Slater said Bennette accused his father of betrayal on the ride home after the interview, according to Parrish Bennette Sr.’s girlfriend.
During the same conversation, Slater said, Bennette told his father, “They won’t go up there. They’ll never find her up there.”
That statement led detectives on an unsuccessful three-day search for Vaughn’s body in the Rocky Butte area of Portland.