Billy M. Benton

Billy M. Benton

Falls Police Criminal Investigation Division detectives have charged a suspect in the double murder of a mother and son in the Cornerstone Village Apartments complex.

Billy M. Benton, 31, of the Falls, was charged with a single count first-degree murder and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on Monday afternoon.

Benton, who has been in custody since the day after the double slaying, was arraigned by video conference and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was ordered held without bail.

At around 6:30 a.m. on May 7, neighbors in the 3100 block of Ninth Street called police after reportedly hearing gunshots coming from a nearby home. Arriving patrol officers found Sonia Hamilton, 60, laying on the sidewalk in front of her home, bleeding heavily from several serious stab wounds and a gunshot wound.

While some patrol officers worked feverishly to try to save Hamilton, other officers entered her home and located her son's body. Detectives said Brian Harris, 31, had sustained a fatal gunshot wound and also had suffered stab wounds.

Investigators said there was no evidence to suggest that Harris had caused the injuries to his mother.

Hamilton was rushed to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, where she died a short time after arriving as a result of her stab wounds.

The following day, May 8, Benton was taken into custody in Cleveland by members of the U.S. Marshals Felony Fugitive Task Force - Cleveland Team.

"At that time, Benton was held on a warrant for second-degree assault and a parole violation in connection with an armed robbery and shooting in January," Criminal Investigation Division Detective Lt. John Conti said. "Members of the Niagara/ Buffalo Marshals Task Force, which includes members of the Niagara Falls Police Department, were instrumental in the coordination of the search for Benton."

Conti also praised the work of Detectives Daniel Haney and Troy Earp.

"They helped a lot,"Conti said.

Benton was taken into custody in Cleveland, without incident and extradited back to Niagara County. Investigators said Benton was "known to both Hamilton and Harris."

Benton is also no stranger to Falls police after a June 2007 run-in with officers.

Patrol officers had responded to a call of “a man with a gun in an orange bag” in the 1100 block of Niagara Avenue as officers approached the man, later identified as Benton, who was 19 at the time, he began to walk away and then ran from them into the backyards of homes in the 2000 block of Lockport Street.

As Benton ran, he threw the orange bag into a garbage can as a second suspect tried to distract the officers. The officers finally caught up with Benton in the rear of a home in the 1100 block of Niagara Avenue and took him into custody.

Other officers recovered the orange bag and found a TEK-9 semi-automatic assault rifle with a loaded ammunition clip inside it. Benton was charged for possessing the assault weapon and for criminal possession of a controlled substance after officers found he had Hydrocodone pills in his pants pocket.

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