Virginia family pleads with Gov. Northam to pardon man sentenced to 1,800 years in prison

Published: Dec. 19, 2021 at 1:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Dozens of people from around the country met at the state capitol on Saturday to support a Virginia family pleading with Gov. Ralph Northam to pardon their family member sentenced to 1,800 years in prison.

More than 18 years ago, 18-year-old Christopher Bennett was sentenced to three life sentences which at the time totaled 1,800 years in prison. Back in 2003, Bennett was charged for killing his stepfather Vincent McDorman after breaking into his home and allegedly catching the man molesting Bennett’s younger sister.

“Once he discovered he was molesting me, Chris ended up shooting and killing Vincent and then taking a checkbook and running away,” Victoria McDorman, Bennett’s sister said. “Chris was charged that night with capital murder, breaking and entering, and robbery.”

McDorman says after her brother was arrested he was given the option of three life sentences carrying 600 years each of the death penalty.

McDorman says at the time she felt she was too young to share her side of the story and felt it was never fully explained but is now making it her mission to get the man she calls a hero out of prison.

“If he wouldn’t have done what he did that night, I would still be in that same situation and I wouldn’t have had the chance to live the life I’ve had,” McDorman said.

Most recently Bennett’s story has gained national attention after being featured on the Dr.Phil Show.

That helped the families petition reach more than 150,000 signatures, it also helped bring more support on Saturday from people around the country.

“So on behalf of everyone in Atlanta, in Georgia, and all across the United States I’m asking that this governor please grant him Clemency,” one speaker said.

The family has now been able to work with an attorney to help with the process of releasing Bennett.

“We’re able to work with a lawyer now who’s helping us advocate for Chris to be released and helping us with the legal paperwork,” McDorman said.

As Gov. Northam makes his way out of office his administration has pardoned more than 700 Virginians. It’s leaving Bennett’s family to beg Northam to look at his case.

“Look at his story, read his papers and please send him home, that’s where he needs to be and that’s where he belongs,” Elizabeth Ailstock, Bennett’s family said.

We reached out to Northam’s office and they provided this comment:

“Governor Northam has pardoned more people than any of the last nine governors combined. He is continuing to review this and other pardon petitions, and will do so through his last day in office.”

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