ShareThis Page

Murder case takes page out of the movies

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 11:32 a.m.

The Fayette County murder case of Steven Bender has become entangled in a movie script.

Bender, 34, is facing trial next week for the May 13, 2000, shooting death of Marvin Knieriem.

Knieriem was boyfriend to Bender's estranged wife.

In filings Tuesday, prosecutors gave notice that they intend to present evidence that Bender, a former state prison guard, solicited a fellow guard to kill his wife if he would return the favor - just like a movie he once saw.

Les Jennings, a prison guard at the State Correctional Institution Greene, told police that he was involved in a custody dispute and knew that Bender was going through that sort of thing as well.

He said he went to Bender for advice the week prior to Knieriem's death.

According to Jennings, Bender called him over (at work) and asked him if he had ever seen a movie about two guys riding on a train. Through the course of their conversation the two realize they have the same problem, and they could take care of each other's problem.

'Bender suggested that Jennings kill Bender's wife and that Bender would kill Jennings' wife. Bender said that no one would suspect them in the murders because Jennings lived in Indiana County and Bender lived in Fayette County,' stated the police report.

While Jennings refused, he did not report the conversation until after the killing.

According to police, Bender, of South Connellsville, broke into Knieriem's home and shot him, then attempted to shoot his estranged wife, Beverly.

Beverly Pletcher shielded herself with the couple's 2-year-old daughter while Bender shot Knieriem again in an effort to get Pletcher to put the girl down.

Bender has said the killing was the result of police inaction. He said 2-year-old Allison Bender was being abused by Knieriem, but police refused to investigate.

After the shooting, she was tested at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. No signs of abuse were found.

The police report filed yesterday calls Bender's story into question.

According to the report, Bender wanted his wife dead for the sheer economics of the situation.

'Bender told Jennings that it costs only 25 cents for a bullet. Jennings said that he told Bender that he would sooner do things the legal way. Bender replied that 25 cents was a whole lot cheaper than paying child support,' states the report.

Meanwhile, Bender's attorney, Caroline Roberto, filed several proposed questions for jurors yesterday, suggesting the defense will try to show that the killing was done in an attempt to protect Allison Bender.

Bender's case is anticipated to be called for trial Monday.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me