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Benjamin Sebena Pleads Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

Menomonee Falls resident Benjamin Sebena, charged with killing his wife, Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena, officially changed is plea on Friday. His trial is set to begin July 8.

Benjamin Sebena, charged with killing his wife, Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena, has changed his plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

There had been speculation that he would change his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, and point to post-traumatic stress disorders as the underlying cause. The couple lived in Menomonee Falls.

The plea sets up a two-phase trial, first for jurors to determine whether he is guilty, and then if found guilty, for them to assess his mental state at the time of the crime.

The trial is expected to begin July 8.

The charge against Benjamin Sebena, first-degree intentional homicide by use of a dangerous weapon, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without possibility of parole. Sebena pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Jan. 24.

Jennifer Sebena was found dead just outside Wauwatosa Fire Station No. 1 in the Village, shot five times in the head. She had been on the police force for two years, and graduated from the top of her class at the MATC Police Academy. She had gone on solo patrol in July and had been assigned to the night shift only about a month before her death.

Benjamin Sebena quickly became a suspect and, after questioning, admitted in a statement to police that he had murdered his wife, according to the criminal complaint against him.

Benjamin Sebena, a wounded Marine veteran of the Iraq War, told investigators that when Jennifer came out of the fire station's north door, he stepped up behind her and fired two shots to the back of her head. The medical examiner's report shows that either one of those shots alone would have been instantly incapacitating and almost certainly fatal.

The last contact police dispatchers had with Officer Jennifer Sebena was at 3:29 a.m. They attempted to contact her again about 4:30, and when she failed to respond, a search located her body just minutes later.

Benjamin Sebena called the Wauwatosa Police Department at 6:35 a.m. to ask if Jennifer was all right, saying he had heard there had been an incident involving an officer. He was told Jennifer had been in an accident and that he should come to the station as soon as possible. Sebena did not ask what had happened to his wife.

At the station, when told Jennifer had been killed, a detective sergeant said Sebena did not ask how she had died.

Sebena was questioned at length on Christmas Eve and taken into custody Christmas Day.

Officer Jennifer Sebena was buried with full honors after a memorial service attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers from across Wisconsin and even from other states.

She was the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in the 96-year history of the Wauwatosa Police Department.

John Wilson March 01, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Well, in the final analysis it really does not matter much at all - Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1849 - so the only real issue here is the cost to the taxpayers for the two trials. The DA should have been able to plea bargain this to a “life in prison without the possibility of parole” sentence “life in prison with the possibility of parole in 50 years” for some sort of guilty plea to save the taxpayer money. That is what is going to happen anyway; he is going to prison for life…
Daniel S. March 02, 2013 at 02:51 PM
When someone can tell me how often someone in their "right mind" murders someone in cold blood, I'll understand the insanity about determining if they were insane. I know, what does insane really mean . . .
John Wilson March 02, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Daniel S. - The DSM-5 defines that quite clearly, however, that is a psychiatric/medical approach; I am somewhat sure that the legal definition of insanity differs somewhat. On the other hand, we train our military personnel to murder "someone in cold blood" all of the time, and these are people they do not even know; of course, we do give them that all-important "license to kill" from the government, and now we do it with drones, so you can be 8,000 miles away. I don't think murder is a nature state for mankind, at least in American culture; perhaps that is why we have so many of our brave military men and women coming back from the war(s) and committing suicide at all-time records rates...
JoAnne Crawford MS, LPC March 06, 2013 at 05:23 AM
"insanity" is a legal term, meaning when the crime was being committed, the suspect did not know right from wrong. "Insanity" is not a mental disorder described/defined in the DSM V.
John Wilson March 06, 2013 at 02:18 PM
JoAnne Crawford MS LPC – Actually, it is both… 1: a severely disordered state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as paranoid schizophrenia) [Clearly listed in the new DSM-V] 2: unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/insanity

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