PALMDALE – Palmdale station detectives Thursday afternoon returned several items of jewelry and coins to a victim, whose home was broken into more than a year ago. They say DNA evidence led them to the burglar.
Justin Benner, 28, was arrested for burglary Thursday and is set for arraignment on April 9 at the Antelope Valley courthouse.
The following is the news release from the Palmdale Station:
Palmdale Station detectives solved a year old burglary case by use of DNA evidence and were able to recover and return most of the victim’s property.
In the early morning hours of December 5, 2010, deputies spotted Justin Benner acting suspiciously. When they contacted him, they saw his pants were covered in blood and he had a strong odor of marijuana on his clothing. In assessing his need for medical assistance, Mr. Benner was found in possession of several items of woman’s jewelry and uncirculated coins.
Mr. Benner claimed he had broken up with his girlfriend, and took the items as part of their separation. Deputies were unable to verify Mr. Benner’s story and arrested him, having reasonable cause to believe Mr. Benner had committed a robbery and had stolen the items.
When Mr. Benner was arrested, a DNA sample was collected pursuant to California state law. Investigating detectives were unable to verify Mr. Benner’s story, nor were they able to find a victim who claimed to have lost the jewelry and coins. Mr. Benner was released from custody and the property found in his possession was returned.
Meanwhile, burglary detectives were following up on a residential burglary that had been reported after Mr. Benner’s release. They discovered a broken window with dried blood at the location. The dried blood was collected and submitted to the crime lab for DNA analysis.
Just this past week, the crime lab was able to match Mr. Benner’s DNA with the DNA collected at the burglary scene, leaving no doubt Mr. Benner had broken the window of the house. Additionally, the property he had in his possession at the time of his arrest had been stolen from the residence.
Palmdale detectives arrested Mr. Benner and once he was confronted with the evidence, [he] gave a full confession. Mr. Benner blamed drugs as the reason for his crime spree and said he could not remember where he had stolen the jewelry and coins from. Amazingly, he still had the items and led detectives to their location. The items were positively identified by the victim and returned [Thursday] afternoon.
Mr. Benner is set for arraignment at the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse on Monday, April 9, 2010.