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U.S. attorneys seek testimony from witnesses in several countries in Lewis Bennett murder trial

Posted at 11:48 AM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 17:02:37-04

UPDATE: The government's motion to continue trial date has been granted. The trial is continued to the two-week period of August 20, 2018.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking a federal judge to postpone Lewis Bennett’s trial until at least February 2019.

Bennett is charged with the murder of his wife Isabella Hellmann, a Palm Beach County resident who has been missing since May 2017.

In a motion, the assistant U.S. attorney says the U.S. is awaiting responses for requests for physical evidence in several foreign countries.

The U.S. is seeking records in the United Kingdom, Australia and French Saint Martin.

In addition, it is seeking the testimonies of witnesses in Australia, Bonaire, France and French Saint Martin.

The U.S. says it plans to talk to the surveyor who examined Bennett's catamaran "Surf into Summer" before he purchased it in 2016.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims Bennett punctured holes in the hull of the boat to intentionally sink it the night his wife went missing from the boat.

Bennett said he and his wife had left Cuba and were traveling to the Keys when he was awoken by a loud thud. He said when he searched for his wife at the helm of the boat she was gone.

The U.S. Attorney's motion says Bennett addressed "the sail, engaged the engines and got the vessel underway." 

The motion says Bennett then noticed the boat was taking on water and gathered his personal belongings to deploy his life raft. He told "law enforcement that he estimated the total time from being awakened until abandoning ship was between 45 minutes to one hour."

The motion says the U.S. is trying to obtain financial documents of Bennett’s and Hellmann's, specifically from a bank account in Australia the U.S. believes could have evidence of a “monetary incentive for the defendant to murder Ms. Hellmann."

The U.S. is requesting that the trial be continued to at least February 2019 and that a status conference is held at least two months before the new trial date.