By Neal Putnam
A bisexual man was ordered to stand trial for murder of a gay man in a case where the victim’s body has not been found. Brian Eleron Hancock, 48, an electrician from National City, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Peter Bentz, 68, whose body was not recovered after he went missing in November 2017.
Bentz was apparently killed in his Ocean Beach apartment where his blood was found. A woman testified in a preliminary hearing that Hancock admitted to stabbing Bentz seven times.
Bentz apparently posted a sexually explicit tape online of Hancock and a woman having sex, which angered him, providing a motive for murder, according to Deputy District Attorney Genaro Ramirez.
Hancock is also charged with the special circumstance of murder during a robbery. If convicted, he faces a life term in prison without parole.
Two witnesses told San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeff Barton that they helped Hancock dispose of Bentz’ vehicle and other possessions.
Both women said they did not know that Bentz had been killed, and they have signed cooperation agreements with the District Attorney’s office. Neither woman will be charged with being an accessory as long as they remain truthful in testimony, according to court records.
Rosa Hammond testified she and Hancock went to Bentz’ home and she watched Hancock and Bentz have sex for 30 minutes. She said she immediately had sex with Hancock afterwards in the presence of Bentz.
She recalled seeing video equipment but did not realize she was being videotaped until after it was posted online. Hancock is married to a woman.
“He said he was going to talk to him,” said Hammond, who added that Hancock later told her he “fixed it.”
Before the videotaping, Hammond said she noticed Hancock take a credit card from Bentz’s wallet. A receipt of a food purchase with Bentz’ credit card was found in Hancock’s possession and Hammond said she was with him when he used it.
Tori Alvarado Flores, 51, testified Hancock told her he was angry at Bentz for posting the video.
“He told me that he stabbed him,” said Flores, who was later charged with an unrelated burglary with Hancock. She was placed on probation and went to a rehab as part of her sentence.
Hancock was arrested Jan. 23, 2018 after his home was searched by San Diego Police. A witness testified she unwittingly helped him dispose of Bentz’ personal papers and possessions, though she did not know Bentz or know he had been killed.
Bentz’ Toyota Highlander was found in the 3100 block of Boston Avenue near Barrio Logan. His wallet and other personal papers were thrown over a chain link fence in an embankment near Interstate 5, according to homicide detective Kevin Iwasaki.
Iwasaki said a ring belonging to Bentz was found at a pawn shop where Hancock had visited. He said an off-white filmy substance had been sprayed in the victim’s apartment and car.
The video equipment, computer, and monitor were missing from his apartment, said Iwasaki. Blood was found on the deadbolt knob at the front door, and also in the kitchen, sink, entertainment center, and bathroom.
Hancock’s attorney, Jimmy Rodriguez, said there was insufficient evidence for first-degree murder and asked the judge to order him to stand trial for second-degree murder.
The judge ordered Hancock to stand trial for murder, saying a jury would determine whether it was first or second-degree murder.
Hancock appeared Jan. 25 before Judge Joan Weber after his case was assigned to her for trial, which she set for July 22.
He remains in jail on $2.25 million bail.
—Neal Putnam is a local freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.