Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Father of Overdose Victim Katie Wilkins Meets with Chris Benton

• An ‘Apology’ But No New Info after Unusual Exchange at Lost Hills

BY ANNE SOBLE

While Christopher Benton was still being held at the Lost Hills Station, Tim O’Quinn, the lead Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective on the Katie Wilkins death investigation, arranged an impromptu visit with him. O’Quinn was accompanied by dead woman’s father Rob Wilkins.
The LASD detective said, “I took [Katie’s father] with me in an attempt to get some/any answers and possibly some degree of closure for the family.”
Katie Wilkins, a 25-year-old graphics designer, was found dead in her family’s home in eastern Malibu on April 28. After nearly four months, the county coroner ruled the cause of death was acute morphine (heroin) intoxication but declined to classify the death, stating that whether it was an accident or caused by the actions of another “could not be determined.”
Benton, 27, who has a lengthy list of prior drug-related arrests and convictions during the last ten years, is believed to be the last person to have been at the Wilkins residence the evening when the recent honors college graduate apparently experienced a fatal drug reaction. A criminal attorney who has indicated that he will not allow his client to speak to authorities is representing him.
Wilkins told the Malibu Surfside News the two men met with Benton in a conference room at the station. He said O’Quinn “read Benton his [Miranda] rights and Benton seemed well-schooled by his attorney.” Wilkins said Benton indicated, “Without a lawyer, I can’t say anything.”
O’Quinn said he perceived Benton “as [being] emotional during the interview and he apologized several times to Mr. Wilkins,” but Wilkins said he didn’t sense “remorse, contrition, or anything I can describe.”
Wilkins said he “made eye contact” with Benton but there were long pauses during what he described as  “approximately a half-hour exchange.”
Still Wilkins stated, “I feel better having met with him—to let him know how painful this is for us. I wanted to tell him face to face that if he had anything to say, we wanted to hear it.”
O’Quinn told The News that he did not need the permission of Benton’s attorney to interview him while he was detained on other charges as long as Benton was apprised of his right not to answer questions without the presence of legal counsel.
He echoed Wilkins’ indication that Benton told O’Quinn that he “would not discuss the incident on anything but very general terms and referred [him] to his attorney for any additional comment.”
O’Quinn said the recently filed charges against Benton were not brought up. He reiterated his earlier statements to The News that this “remains a case that cannot be filed at this time.” O’Quinn emphasized, “No evidentiary statements were made by [Benton].”

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