Man accused of murder in W.Va. appears in Washington County court for hearing on drug charges

Jonathan Frederick Bennett being held in the Washington County Detention Center on detainers

April 06, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Jonathan Frederick Bennett
Submitted photo

A Virginia man accused of murder in Berkeley County, W.Va., appeared in Washington County District Court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on charges of distributing heroin and cocaine.

Jonathan Frederick Bennett, 39, of Charlottesville, Va., is charged with two counts each of distribution of narcotics and possession with intent to distribute narcotics and four counts each of possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records.

Ashley Nicole Carpegna, 26, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who is charged as an accessory after the fact in the same  murder, was also scheduled for a preliminary hearing on  drug charges, but District Court Judge Dana Moylan Wright granted a 30-day continuance because Carpegna is in jail in West Virginia.

After Wright found probable cause to move Bennett's drug case to Circuit Court, Assistant Public Defender Amy Taylor-Heimberg requested Bennett's bond be reduced from $150,000 to $50,000.

Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes went further, asking that Bennett be placed on a personal recognizance bond, noting he has two detainers from West Virginia.

"One of those detainers is for the crime of murder," Debes said.

Bennett was charged March 17 by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department in the March 6 shooting death of Geronimo Garcia-Cruz, 26, of Winchester. Va.

Although Bennett is free on personal recognizance bond, he will be held in the Washington County Detention Center on the detainers until the extradition issue is resolved, Debes said after the hearing.

Carpegna, of 2998 Winchester Ave., Apt. 10, is also charged in Garcia-Cruz's murder, but waived extradition shortly after she and Bennett were taken into custody in Hagerstown on March 8.

Garcia-Cruz and a group of friends met Carpegna at the strip club where she danced and went to her Suncrest Apartments home for an "illicit informal business agreement," police said. Garcia-Cruz was found dead in a stairwell, but police allege Bennett shot him in her apartment.

Two days later, confidential informants with the Washington County Narcotics Task Force arranged a controlled purchase of drugs from Bennett, task force Agent Frank Tosten testified Wednesday. The informants called Bennett and met him outside a restaurant, he testified.

Bennett sold one informant $200 worth of heroin and crack cocaine and was arrested a few minutes later, Tosten testified.

Along with the marked task force money, police found $474 on Bennett, Tosten testified. Also found inside his pickup truck were $1,000, crack and powder cocaine and 45 packets of heroin, Tosten testified.

Debes said after the hearing that Carpegna was arrested with Bennett. She is charged with two counts each of possession with intent to distribute narcotics, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia, court records said.

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