Beaver attorney Gerald Benyo Jr.’s criminal indictment defense and life continue to evolve.
Since Dec. 11, when he was held for trial on one harassment and two simple assault charges for an alleged October beating of his then-estranged wife Sharon Benyo:
– Sharon Benyo, 44, has twice violated his September protection from abuse order (PFA). She also was charged with resisting Rochester Township police and is again imprisoned.
– The couple’s divorce was finalized last week.
– Benyo Jr., 49, has offered to submit to a lie detector test, a voice analysis or any testing of his vehicle in his criminal case, but the county District Attorney’s Office has not taken him up on it.
The case against Benyo Jr. was initiated after sheriff’s deputies noticed injuries to Sharon Benyo’s face and body on Oct. 30 as they were serving her an arrest warrant for failing to appear for a court action. Beaver Falls police had charged her on Oct. 1 with possession of drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Charges for her alleged assault were first filed against Benyo Jr. by Beaver Falls police on Nov. 7, and dropped after Sharon Benyo changed her story. The DA’s office then refiled the charges against him on Nov. 19 without Beaver Falls’ initial additional felony aggravated assault charge.
The DA chose to file the reduced charges because Sharon Benyo said she was inebriated when the alleged attack occurred and claimed she was later detoxing and remembering different details.
The only details Sharon Benyo didn’t change were that her then-husband beat her in a vehicle.
She told county detectives the attack occurred on Oct. 27, not Oct. 26 as she first told Beaver Falls police. She also said she couldn’t remember what town the attack took place in, or whether she was actually in Benyo Jr.’s vehicle – though she described his Hummer initially to police – or a Nissan car belonging to his mother. In addition, she said she was no longer sure that he hit her with a gun, and that it could have been his fist.
Sharon Benyo was released from custody the day after Benyo Jr. was held for trial following a preliminary hearing in the case. Within the next week, she went to his Rochester Township home twice in violation of his PFA.
The second time on Dec. 20, police said she fought her arrest, resulting in one additional charge of resisting arrest, two of disorderly conduct, and four charges of obstructing the administration of law. Police took her for medical evaluation after the second incident and then she was held on a $20,000 bond.
Benyo Jr. maintains his innocence. He is preparing for an upcoming trial status conference and says he will not accept any plea deal. He expects a trial will be in May.
He also maintains that his known criticism of the DA and his detectives’ bureau is a factor in his case. He said the county detectives’ budget needs to be reduced and that he and District Attorney “Lozier disagree on a number of issues involving his job performance and mistakes that have been made.”
“He has politicized the job more than any other (DA) in the last three decades and has not been good for Beaver County,” Benyo Jr. said, adding that Lozier’s lack of prior criminal experience “has been a complete failure.”
Benyo ran for district attorney in 2015, losing to Lozier in the Republican primary election. Prior to his arrest, he had switched to the Democratic party and announced his intention to run for district attorney again this year, but now says he will not be seeking the seat.
BeaverCountian.com’s John Paul contributed to this report