George Benner is the adult in this picture.
Updated: Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009, 11:39 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 14 May 2009, 9:45 PM EDT
FOWLER, Ind. (WLFI) - A murder for hire plot, that led to the death of a Fowler man and his girlfriend, has resulted in a life sentence.
32-year-old Toby Payne pleaded guilty to two counts of murder. Hamilton County Police said Payne hired two men, he met in jail, to kill his estranged wife. Rebecca Payne and George Benner of Fowler were shot in April 2007 at her house near Carmel. Juan Lucio of Frankfort and another man from Zionsville were sentenced to life in prison without parole for their part in the murders.
George Benner's mother spoke to News Channel 18 about Payne's sentence and the two years she's lived without her oldest son.
"I do believe this is justice," said Charla Benner.
Charla Benner attended all of the hearings, trials and sentencings of the three men involved in her son's death.
"I wanted to know what exactly happened," she explained. "I wanted to see if these guys were remorseful in any way. They were not."
After two years, she found herself at the final sentencing. Toby Payne hatched the murder for hire plot to kill his wife Rebecca Payne who filed for divorce. 35-year-old George Benner of Fowler, Charla's son, was also murdered. The two dated only five weeks. Charla believes George and Rebecca lost their lives for one reason:
"Toby Payne's greed. It almost felt like he was a child because Rebecca was filing for divorce and was leaving him. No one else could play with her. A selfish child is what I felt like. He didn't care who else was hurt," she said.
The victim impact statement Charla gave to the judge reads: "His brothers Jim, Chris, Phil and Steve and his sister Roni will never again be able to ask his advice or moral support. I will never again be able to chat with him or call him up when I need help. His six nieces and nephews, who adored him, will never be able to play games with him. George's siblings and I will never get over losing my son, their brother, their uncle, their friend, their confidante." Yet, George's presence is still tangible to the family. George is remembered for loving to cook. His two brothers opened Benner's Bar and Grill in Fowler.
"They are using some of George's receipes that George liked to cook," Charla added.
George also graduated from Purdue University and volunteered many places. In his memory, a scholarship will be given to Purdue's School of Technology student. Here is the criterion to receive the money:
"They have to have given of themselves to others because that's what George was doing a lot of. He was involved with the soup kitchen. He was involved with Relay For Life. He was always there to help you when you needed help," she said.
George's family is inviting the detectives and prosecutor involved in his case to have a meal at Benner's Bar and Grill as a thank you.
Click here to see a PDF of the complete statement George's mother submitted to the judge who sentenced Toby Payne.