Sex, ties and video land National City man in court for homicide

A murder trial has been set for Feb. 25, 2019 for a National City man who is accused of killing an acquaintance who posted a video on the internet of the man and a woman having sex.

Brian Eleron Hancock, 48, an electrician, pleaded not guilty Oct. 4 to the murder of Peter Bentz, 68, whose body was never found after he went missing in November 2017. A woman testified Hancock admitted to stabbing Bentz seven times after he was angered that Bentz posted the sexually explicit material online.

Hancock is also charged with the special circumstance of murder during a robbery. Bentz vanished, but his blood was found in his Ocean Beach home where Bentz allegedly videotaped Hancock and a woman having sex, according to testimony in the preliminary hearing.

Two witnesses testified in the preliminary hearing before San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeff Barton that they helped Hancock dispose of Bentz’ vehicle and other possessions.

Both women said they did not know that Bentz had been killed, and they have signed cooperation agreements with the District Attorney’s office. Neither woman will be charged with being an accessory as long as they remain truthful in testimony, according to court records.

Rosa Hammond testified she and Hancock went to Bentz’ home and she recalled having sex with Hancock in the presence of Bentz. She recalled seeing video equipment, but did not realize she was being videotaped until after it was posted online. Hancock is married.

“He said he was going to talk to him,” said Hammond, who added that Hancock later told her he “fixed it.”

Before the videotaping, Hammond said she noticed Hancock take a credit card from Bentz’s wallet. A receipt of a food purchase with Bentz’ credit card was found in Hancock’s possession and Hammond said she was with him when he used it.

Tori Alvarado Flores, 51, testified Hancock told her he was angry at Bentz for posting the video. “He told me that he stabbed him,” said Flores, who was later charged with an unrelated burglary with Hancock. She was placed on probation and went to a rehab as part of her sentence.

Hancock was arrested Jan. 23 on charges of transportation of methamphetamine, possession of meth for sale, and child endangerment. He was still in jail when he was re-arrested in June on a murder charge.

A witness testified she unwittingly helped him dispose of Bentz’ personal papers and possessions, though she did not know Benz or know he had been killed.
Bentz’ Toyota Highlander was found in the 3100 block of Boston Avenue near Barrio Logan.

His wallet and other personal papers were thrown over a chain link fence in an embankment near Interstate 5, according to homicide detective Kevin Iwasaki.
Iwasaki said a ring belonging to Bentz was found at a pawn shop where Hancock had visited. He said an off-white filmy substance had been sprayed in the victim’s apartment and car. The video equipment, computer, and monitor were missing from his apartment, said Iwasaki. Blood was found on the deadbolt knob at the front door, and also in the kitchen, sink, entertainment center, and bathroom.

Hancock’s attorney, Jimmy Rodriguez, said there was insufficient evidence for first-degree murder and asked the judge to order him to stand trial for second-degree murder.
Deputy District Attorney Genaro Ramirez said the apparent motive is Hancock’s anger about being videotaped, but that Hancock also committed burglary of Bentz’s apartment.

The judge ordered Hancock to stand trial for murder, saying a jury would determine whether it was first or second-degree murder.

Hancock remains in jail on $2.25 million bail. He has prior convictions for arson and burglary.