A western New York man has been arrested for fatally shooting his estranged wife in front of her three children just one day after being freed without bail on misdemeanor charges for beating her, thanks to New York’s radical bail reform laws.
Ex-convict Adam Bennefield, 45, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 30-year-old Keaira Bennefield. He has also been charged with aggravated criminal contempt and three counts of child endangerment.
Just one day before Keaira Bennefield was murdered, Adam Bennefield appeared in Cheektowaga Town Court on a misdemeanor charge for allegedly assaulting his estranged wife inside her home.
On the morning of September 28, Cheektowaga police responded to a domestic violence call and obtained an arrest warrant for a harassment charge for Adam Bennefield, according to reporting from Buffalo News. Police stated that Keaira Bennefield did not need to be hospitalized for her injuries from the altercation, though they did tell her to call them if her husband returned home.
Later that evening, Keaira Bennefield posted an almost eight-minute video of the assault on her Facebook page, which appears to show her being tackled and punched multiple times by her husband.
“This is what this man does [sic] to me but I’m always treated like I’m the abuser!” she wrote.
The video evidence ultimately led to Adam Bennefield’s October 4 arraignment in court on misdemeanor charges for the assault of his estranged wife.
However, due to bail reform laws in New York, he was released the same day — as state law prevented the judge from even setting bail at all for low-level misdemeanor charges.
The New York Post reports that, due to the radical bail reform laws passed by New York’s Democrat-controlled legislature, a judge is not allowed to weigh dangerousness when considering bail for a suspect.
The following morning, Keaira Bennefield was reportedly so afraid for her life that she wore a bulletproof vest while driving her children to school.
Unfortunately, while she was on her way, her husband allegedly crashed his vehicle into her SUV. He then pulled out a shotgun and fatally shot her before fleeing the scene. Keaira Bennefield’s nine-year-old and five-year-old daughters were both in the back seat of the vehicle, along with the couple’s six-month-old son.
A week-long manhunt for Adam Bennefield then began, until the man was ultimately captured by police in Buffalo on October 12. He has since been held without bail, was charged in court on October 21, and appeared in court again on Wednesday.
Adam Bennefield has been arraigned on murder in the second degree, criminal contempt and endangering the welfare of a child. He has been remanded without bail. Bennefield is accused of killing his estranged wife, Keaira Hudson. He then led police on a weeklong manhunt. pic.twitter.com/QYFWAEKVqa
— Marlee Tuskes (@MarleeTuskesTV) October 21, 2022
The suspect has a history of violence against women, as he was previously convicted for kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and another woman at gunpoint in 2000, as well as for escaping from the Erie County Facility. Bennefield was paroled from state prison in 2015, according to Buffalo News.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn (D) initially claimed that there was no evidence to charge Bennefield with anything more than a misdemeanor for beating his wife.
“The charges were correctly charged. The judge had no choice but to release this person,” he stated at the time, according to the New York Post.
Following Bennefield’s arraignment on October 21, Flynn appeared to change his mind — calling for the bail reform law to be amended.
“I was an advocate of bail reform initially. I still am an advocate for the majority parts of the bail reform law. I believe the law went too far,” the district attorney said. “I believe that provisions need to be made to the law.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is running for governor of New York, spoke out about Keaira Bennefield’s death, demanding an end to cashless bail and calling out his opponent, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).
“On Tuesday, Adam Bennefield attacked his wife, was arrested, charged with many crimes, & released on cashless bail. The next day, he killed her in front of their 3 kids.” Zeldin tweeted.
“[Kathy Hochul] won’t give judges discretion to weigh dangerousness so now these 3 kids no longer have their mom,” he added.
On Tuesday, Adam Bennefield attacked his wife, was arrested, charged with many crimes, & released on cashless bail. The next day, he killed her in front of their 3 kids. @KathyHochul won't give judges discretion to weigh dangerousness so now these 3 kids no longer have their mom.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) October 7, 2022
Meanwhile, the Democrat governor has been dismissive of the issue of crime in New York. When pressed about the issue of locking up dangerous criminals and dealing with rising crime in her state during a debate with Zeldin, Hochul outright stated: “I don’t know why that’s so important to you.”
Kathy Hochul's response to me tonight when I spoke about how we need to lock up criminals:
"I don’t know why that's so important to you"?
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) October 26, 2022