LOCKPORT — After almost a day of deliberations, a Niagara County Court jury found a Falls woman not guilty of hindering the prosecution of a convicted double murderer.
The jury found Jazzi Clay, 33, not guilty of the only charge she faced, hindering prosecution, after a week-long trial where prosecutors introduced evidence that she drove her boyfriend, Billy Benton Jr., to Unity Park on May 7, 2020, and then picked him up and drove him to Ohio to avoid capture by Falls police for the murder of a mother and her son.
“The evidence was clear, she dropped (Benton) off before (the murders) and picked him up after and took him to Cleveland,” Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman said after the verdict. “We thought we had placed more than ample evidence before the jurors and we were surprised by their verdict.”
The jury began its deliberations around 4 p.m. Tuesday and returned with its verdict about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Clay had pleaded not guilty to the charge she faced.
Benton is serving a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for the murders of Sonia Hamilton and her son, Brian Harris II. A jury took just two and a half hours to convict Benton in November 2021 on charges of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and multiple counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
The jury also found Benton guilty of first-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with a shooting incident on Jan. 17, 2020 in the 900 block of Ontario Street. Falls police described that incident as “an armed robbery and shooting.”
At Benton’s sentencing, in February 2022, First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann, a veteran homicide prosecutor, called his crime “the most brutal, horrific, senseless case that I’ve ever handled.” Police investigators said Benton “slaughtered” Hamilton, 60, and Harris II, 31, in the home they shared in Unity Park.
Police say Benton fled from the home and was then picked up by Clay. Investigators said Clay drove Benton to Cleveland, where he was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Task Force on May 8, 2020.
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