RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Supporters of Christopher Bennett gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond Saturday to ask Gov. Ralph Northam to commute his 1,800-year sentence.
On July 25, 2003, Bennett broke into the home of his mother’s boyfriend — who had physically and sexually abused Bennett’s mother and half-sisters — and murdered him. He was given three consecutive life sentences for breaking and entering, robbery and murder — totaling 1,800 years.
Bennett’s family and others have been working for the last 19 years to win his freedom. On Saturday, Dec. 18, they were joined by other supporters to plead with Northam to grant Bennet clemency in his final days in office — something the family is afraid Governor-Elect Glenn Younkin won’t do.
“Chris was wrong for breaking in that night, and I’ll never say he wasn’t. Chris was wrong for taking the man’s checkbook, but for protecting his sisters? He shouldn’t have gotten 1,800 years. Protecting your family shouldn’t be a crime,” said Elizabeth Ailstock, Bennett’s mother.
Demonstrators from Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Michigan and Indiana came to Richmond to show their support for Bennett’s clemency.
Bennett’s family members recently appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil, giving his story national attention. A petition on change.org set up by one of Bennett’s sisters has amassed over 150,000 signatures.