Preliminary hearings have begun in the case against the Grenada man accused of raping and killing an Atlanta woman last week on the Caribbean island.
The Associated Press reported that prosecutors presented Friday the first of 12 witnesses expected to take the stand in the case against 27-year-old Dave Martin Benjamin, who is charged with capital murder in the death of 39-year-old physician assistant Jessica Colker. Colker and her husband, vacationing in Grenada from Atlanta, were walking along an isolated beach when they were attacked Sunday, authorities have said.
According to police and prosecutors on the island, Benjamin “took the couple away” into a wooded area but the husband, 62-year-old Brian Melito, managed to escape and run for help. An autopsy determined that Colker was raped and died from “extensive skull fracture and asphyxia.”
Benjamin — known as “Giant” or “Shuttle” — surrendered the day after Colker’s death. On Wednesday, he was charged with capital murder.
Acting Royal Grenada Police Force Commissioner Winston James previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was unclear why Benjamin, a landscaper, targeted the Atlanta couple. He became the department’s “chief suspect” after witnesses reported seeing him “begging persons on the beach for money” prior to the attack, James said.
Benjamin was convicted of rape in 2013, according to officials, and released from prison in November due to good behavior.
Attempts to reach prosecutors in the case were not immediately successful Saturday.
The preliminary hearing that began Friday is expected to continue next week. It is “required before the matter can be referred to the High Court for prosecution,” the Associated Press reported.