Lewis Bennett sentencing: Husband receives 8 year jail sentence after involuntary manslaughter plea as questions linger if he intentionally murdered, Delray Beach wife, Isabella Hellmann?
Lewis Bennett, 41, was ordered to prison Tuesday in Miami federal court after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors.
Isabella Hellmann, who lived in Delray Beach, went missing from her husband’s boat off the coast of the Bahamas in May 2017 after setting sail from St. Maarten.
Bennett’s sentencing follows Hellman’s family claiming her newly married husband conspiring to effect the 41 year woman’s death in a bid to inherit her estate. Of note, prosecutors were able to show within 24 hours of Hellmann’s disappearance, Bennett having sought to file a ‘letter of presumed death’ so he could settle her estate.
Acknowledging the family’s disconcert, during Tuesday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Federico Morenore-affirmed he could only sentence Bennett for the crime which he had admitted, involuntary manslaughter.
Had Bennett gone to trial for the initial murder charges against him the husband could’ve potentially have been sentenced to life in prison.
Lewis Bennett sentencing: Did the husband conspire to murder his newly married wife?
The Delray Beach, Florida couple was married for three months when they set sail on a honeymoon trip in May 2017.
Bennett claimed the 37-foot catamaran which he owned struck an unknown object about 30 miles west of the Bahamian island of Cay Sal and began to capsize.
When Bennett tried to escape from below deck, Hellmann was allegedly nowhere to be found, he told investigators. He said he last saw his 41-year-old wife hours before the accident standing at the helm of the boat before he went to sleep.
Authorities searched for Hellmann by sea and air but her body was never recovered.
The FBI, while never explicitly saying how they agency believed Bennett killed his wife, alleged Bennett staging his wife’s death to look like an accident. The FBI determined the damage to the boat was caused from the inside and there was no evidence the boat was struck.
A complaint alleged Bennett poked holes in both of his catamaran’s hulls from the inside and having popped open two portholes below the water line. It said he admitted to doing almost nothing to find his wife, devoting his efforts to loading a life raft with food, water, a satellite phone and a homing device.
Bennett, who shares a 2-year-old daughter with Hellmann, faced a maximum of eight years behind bars under his plea deal. The girl, who turns 3 in July, is being raised by his parents in Scotland.
He apologized to his late wife’s family prior to sentencing.
The judge said following his eight-year sentence, Lewis Bennett, 42, will be on supervised release for three years.