Corporate Murder Charges Dismissed in Rehab Case

murder-charges-dismissed

Riverside Superior Court Judge Elaine M. Kiefer dismissed murder charges against a drug and alcohol rehab corporation and its employees Friday, dramatically curtailing the scope of a criminal case that had been touted as groundbreaking prosecution.

Acting on a series of motions by the Hueston Hennigan legal team and the joint defense to dismiss the indictment, Judge Kiefer found insufficient evidence for murder charges but decided the state attorney general's office could continue with a lesser charge of adult abuse charges against the facility, A Better Tomorrow, and its employees.

The case stems from the July 2010 death of Gary Benefield at a residential detox facility in Murrieta. The Riverside County Chief Forensic Examiner, who conducted the autopsy, determined Mr. Benefield had died from natural causes, but Hueston Hennigan client Mignon "Meg" Dean, three other individuals and three corporate entities nonetheless were charged with murder. The case was believed to be the first time in California history that a corporation had been charged with such a crime. (See: Charges against detox center pared down by Riverside judge in the Daily Journal.)