Joseph Connell, a hardworking mechanic and his new bride, Olga Connell, were brutally shot multiple times at the Paladin Club Condominiums in Wilmington, Delaware in September 2013. 39 year old Joseph Connell was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime while his wife succumbed to her injuries later at Wilmington Hospital.
According to New Castle County Police the victims were found lying outside their home in a pool of blood. Bullet holes found in the doorway of the building and a smashed window indicated a violent confrontation.

A contract killing
In November this year, the alleged mastermind and one of the two shooters, Christopher J. Rivers and Dominique L. Benson, were set to get their chance to hear authorities outline charges against them in court in a ‘proof positive hearing’. This is where prosecutors get the opportunity to push for capital murder for the duo and for them to continue to be held without bail.
According to prosecutors, the case is eligible for the death penalty since two people were murdered although they were unclear whether the attorney general would seek death penalty for the two accused. Why not? 32 year old Rivers was a partner in Connell’s business, C&S Automotive Repair in Talleyville while 24 year old Benson was one of the professional killers who had been contracted on several occasions and was hired by Joshua C. Bey, a former FBI informant and third defendant in the case. Bey is currently being held without bail and hasn’t opted for a proof positive hearing.
Million dollars at stake
Rivers confessed he stood to gain $1 million in a life insurance policy which would have taken care of their mortgage on the property at 3805 Concord Pike. While Rivers hired Bey, the latter contracted Benson and another unidentified killer for the job. Benson was only charged in the killings after both Rivers and Bey were arrested since police were involved in collecting more evidence that connected Benson to the killings. News of Bey pleading guilty did not reach the victim’s families since the court hearing was held in a locked courtroom, devoid of any public and press.
Neither did any public notice of the proceedings appear on the court docket. Bey’s criminal defense attorney also said he knew nothing about him pleading guilty despite rumors that the former FBI informant confessed to his role in court. Until now, Bey’s court file indicates that the case is still open.
However, the secrecy surrounding Bey’s guilty plea in the Connell murders came to an end during the hearing for Rivers and Benson. After a New Castle County police detective presented Bey’s statements that were made to the police, Rivers’ criminal defense attorney asked the detective if Bey had pleaded guilty. The detective responded in the affirmative saying the Bey had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.
Rarest of rare hearings
According to criminal defense lawyers, this is one of the rare cases where a secret guilty plea by a murderer has been permitted. Delaware court observers have not been able to recall such an incident in the state court. Some experts are of the opinion that there is a provision in Superior Court rules that gives judges the authority to conduct secret pleas deals. While the rule mandates that plea bargains be disclosed, it allows the judge to take a guilty plea in private based on a showing of good cause.

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