NAPLES, Fla. — Steven Wayne Benson received two life prison sentences today for murdering his mother and nephew with a car bomb to protect his share of a $10-million Pennsylvania tobacco inheritance.
Circuit Judge Hugh D. Hayes ordered Benson to serve the sentences consecutively.
Benson was also convicted on two counts of felony murder, one of attempted murder and four of arson. He received an additional 22 years on those charges.
Under state guidelines, Benson will not be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.
Benson, who stared at the floor throughout the half-hour proceeding, showed no emotion when the sentence was announced. He was led from the courtroom shortly thereafter.
The jury that convicted him recommended life in prison, but Prosecutor Dwight Brock asked the judge to ignore that and impose the death penalty.
Pipe Bombs in Vehicle
Benson, 35, was convicted last month of the murder of his 63-year-old mother, Margaret Benson, and his 21-year-old nephew, Scott Benson, by planting pipe bombs in the family's vehicle.
The bombs exploded July 9, 1985, in the driveway of the estate of Margaret Benson, heir to the Lancaster (Pa.) Leaf Tobacco Co. fortune.
Carol Lynn Benson Kendall, Benson's sister and the mother of Scott, was wounded in the blast and testified against her brother at the murder trial.
Kendall, 41, testified that she was able to drag herself from the burning vehicle before the second bomb exploded.
Prosecutors contended that Benson planted the bombs because his mother caught him embezzling money from companies she had financed for him and had threatened to disinherit him.
But the defense argued that Scott Benson was a drug user with a bad temper and that drug dealers, tired of waiting for money Scott owed them, planted the bomb for him.