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Clairton man held for trial in fatal stabbing

| Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, 12:00 p.m.

A Clairton man stabbed his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his two children, more than 70 times after finding her with another man in her bedroom, a prosecutor said Friday.

District Judge Richard King ordered Herbert Benson, 44, to stand trial on charges that he killed Uniquea Hines, 23, on Jan. 6 then fled with the two boys in Hines' sport utility vehicle.

"The very last image I have before I jumped out the window was him bum-rushing the door," said Andrew Boatright, who had been dating Hines for about a month. "You see somebody in that type of rage, going insane -- I felt like I was in fear for my life."

Benson appeared in Pittsburgh Municipal Court in handcuffs and shackles yesterday for a preliminary hearing on charges of homicide and child endangerment.

"This seems like a heat of passion," said Kevin Abramovitz, Benson's attorney. "He was going into his house. Another man was in his bedroom and he was enraged."

Hines died at the scene of multiple stab wounds in the neck, according to Deputy District Attorney Mark V. Tranquilli.

"When you stab someone over 70 times, it's with an intent to kill," Tranquilli said.

Boatright said Hines had kicked Benson out her house and the two were no longer together. Benson sneaked into the home about 1 a.m. because he had a key and saw the two together, said Boatright, who testified he and Hines were talking when Benson barged into the bedroom.

"At first he didn't see me. Then he jumped on us and was punching us," Boatright testified. "I was trying to fight back."

Benson left the room for a minute, and Boatright testified he jumped out of a second-floor window to escape when Benson pushed open the door to come back in.

"I heard her screaming," Boatright testified. "I didn't know what kind of weapon he had, a gun or what. I didn't want to stick around and see, so I got out of there."

Hines then ran outside for help, Tranquilli said.

Neighbor Norma Robinson testified that her grandkids had just gotten home when she heard Hines banging on her door.

"Someone was screaming, 'help me, help me, help me,' " Robinson testified. She said she looked outside and saw Benson hitting Hines over and over again. Robinson said she couldn't tell whether Benson had a weapon in his hand.

"I opened my door. Blood was everywhere. She was laying there in the snow," said Robinson, who ran upstairs to call 911.

After stabbing Hines, Benson went back inside his ex's house, got their children and fled in her SUV with them, Tranquilli said. Clairton police chased him until he got out and ran near the home of Hines' mother. When police tackled and arrested him, his clothes were covered in blood, said Clairton police Sgt. James Carozza.

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