March 12, 2010

Home invasion suspect faces multiple charges

DAVID HENCH

— By

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Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette: Ephriam Bennett looks to his attorney Merritt Heminway during Ephriam's initial appearance at Cumberland County Superior Court Monday, February 9, 2009. Ephriam was facing felony charges of elevated aggravated assault, robbery and burglary for aledgedly beating Richard Carlson of Standish. Carlson was beaten, stabbed, tied up and left for dead by a masked intruder who broke into his home around 2 a.m. looking to steal cash.

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson has asked that a man accused in a Standish home invasion be held without bail until his trial.

Ephriam Bennett, 46, appeared Monday in Cumberland County Superior Court charged with burglary, robbery and elevated aggravated assault. He is accused of breaking into a Standish man's home, tying him up and stabbing him over a period of several hours.

The victim in the attack is recovering and was listed in satisfactory condition at Maine Medical Center.

After a brief conversation with the defense lawyer handling court appearances Monday, Bennett made his initial appearance, indicating to Justice Paul Eggert that he understood the charges against him. He was not asked to enter a plea, but he will be back in court Thursday for a bail hearing.

''I want him held without bail,'' Anderson said. ''When Maine had a death penalty in 1820, burglary committed in that way was punishable by death.''

Bennett is accused of breaking into the Shore Road home of Richard Carlson, 55, at 2 a.m. Sunday, looking to steal money. Authorities allege that Bennett beat Carlson, tied him up with duct tape, kicked him repeatedly and stabbed him once in the back and again in the arm.

Bennett spent six hours in the house, at one point washing his clothes to remove bloodstains, investigators say.

Police said that when Bennett left, Carlson was able to escape and go to a neighbor's house for help. Police swarmed the area and arrested Bennett about a quarter-mile away as he was coming out of the woods.

Authorities suspect that he might have been staying in a camper belonging to one of the seasonal residents of the neighborhood, along the shores of Bonny Eagle Lake.

Police are trying to determine whether Bennett's extensive criminal record includes similar cases.

Bennett was convicted in Texas in 1994 of a first-degree felony of burglary to a home with a weapon or explosive. That and a separate conviction on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon landed him in a Texas prison for six years.

Bennett also is wanted in North Carolina for allegedly violating his probation. He was on probation because of a felony larceny conviction and is now considered a fugitive from justice from that state.

Bennett also is accused of missing a court date on a charge of assaulting his brother in Scarborough last year, and he was the target of three separate protection from abuse orders filed by a former girlfriend and the mother of two of his children.

The girlfriend, Susan Whittemore, accused Bennett of hitting her while she was pregnant, and once holding her against her will.

She described him in court papers as a former boxer who once served in the Army.

Bennett had owned a cleaning business, ''E's Family Cleaning Service'' in Searsmont, which employed eight people and had cleaning and landscaping contracts with a number of fast-food restaurants in the Augusta area.

He seems to have fallen on hard times since then. The Searsmont house he lived in has been abandoned, according to court papers. His most recent address was in Raleigh, N.C.

Rodney Stewart of North Carolina, who said he is Bennett's younger brother, declined to talk about Bennett on Monday.

Bennett declined a request for an interview. Attorney Clifford Strike has been appointed to represent him.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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