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Mother of murdered man pleads for accused killer

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The mother of a murdered man said, if she were the judge, she would sentence the woman accused of killing her son to therapy.

According to Wanda Holliday, her 23-year-old son, Rickey Nathaniel Holliday, "physically and psychologically abused" Shanica Lashunda Benson until she stabbed him.

Benson, now 26, was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday on charges of murder and aggravated assault. According to the indictment, she stabbed him with the three-inch blade "of a certain kitchen knife during the course of a crime, to wit: murder."

Benson, a Mississippi native, who moved to the area after the hurricane of 2005, was living with Rickey Holliday at his mother's townhouse at the Highland Manor Apartment complex at 276 Upper Riverdale Road.

In April 2007, Benson and Rickey Holliday got into an argument in their upstairs bedroom. The fight moved out of the bedroom and down the stairs, according to police reports at the time. Rickey Holliday threw a metal rod and a chair at Benson, who walked out of the townhouse into the parking lot. The fight moved out into the parking lot, and Benson allegedly stabbed her boyfriend in the chest, about two inches below his heart.

When police arrived, Rickey Holliday was lying between two cars, bleeding to death, and asking for a drink of water. Benson allegedly left him there, walking away and calling his mother on her cell phone to say she was leaving and "something bad had happened."

Benson was arrested almost six hours later when she walked into a Krystal restaurant, where she worked. Crime Scene Investigators working the homicide were there, on a break, and recognized her.

About a month later, Wanda Holliday wrote in support of the woman accused of murdering her son, in a "victim impact statement" filed with the county court.

"In the time that I have known Ms. Benson," Wanda Holliday wrote, "she has never exhibited any threatening or violent tendencies whatsoever, despite having been severely physically and psychologically abused by my son."

Wanda Holliday wrote that her son controlled his girlfriend, not allowing her to talk on the phone, have friends, or keep in touch with her family, classic signs of an abusive relationship. Holliday wrote, "I loved my son, my baby," but she said she had tried to help Benson leave him and go back to Mississippi, because he hit and pushed her, and abused her.

"I feel that she did not mean to kill him, even though he made her life, for the most part, unbearable," Wanda Holliday wrote. "Rickey would terrorize the entire house ... I escaped his father's violence. I am sorry she had to go through this."

Benson is facing the possibility of a life sentence. A trial date has not been set.