Lakeside man sentenced 24 years to life for murder

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A Lakeside man was sentenced Nov. 14 to 24 years to life in prison for killing an acquaintance and attacking an inmate while in jail.

Lance Alyn Benson, 31, was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing Trammel Joseph Rizzuti, 35, of El Cajon, whose body was discovered April 24, 2016 by a newspaper delivery person on a sidewalk in the 10400 block of Aquilla Dr. in Lakeside.

A Lakeside man was sentenced Nov. 14 to 24 years to life in prison for killing an acquaintance and attacking an inmate while in jail.

Lance Alyn Benson, 31, was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing Trammel Joseph Rizzuti, 35, of El Cajon, whose body was discovered April 24, 2016 by a newspaper delivery person on a sidewalk in the 10400 block of Aquilla Dr. in Lakeside.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry said Benson and Rizzuti went out drinking at an El Cajon bar and later got into an argument. Rizzuti was stabbed eight times.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson ordered a consecutive 8-year term for attempted murder of an inmate whom Benson tried to strangle. Benson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted murder.

Rizzuti’s father is raising his son’s daughter in Conn. Cookson fined Benson $10,000 and gave him credits for 570 days in jail.

Campo man ordered to stand trial

A Campo man was ordered Nov. 15 to stand trial for two counts of murder and two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the deaths of his two passengers.

Ryan Gary Renz, 24, was held to answer in the Jan. 25 deaths of his cousin, Johnny Ray Meyer, Jr., 23, and friend, Dillon Cody Wiltfong, 26, both of Campo.  

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador conducted the 2-day preliminary hearing and noted he had court documents before him from Renz’s drunk driving 2015 case.

Amador said Renz signed a document that said if he was ever charged with drunk driving again in which someone died, he could be charged with murder.

“He must have known what the danger was,” said Amador. “He crashed his car, killed his friends, almost killed himself.”

Amador said Renz was driving on Buckman Springs Road “at least 85 mph” on Jan. 25 in “an unsafe manner” that was “grossly negligent.”

Renz failed to negotiate a curve and slammed into a tree. It rolled over several times before coming to rest on its roof. 

The judge said the crash was “a natural probable consequence” of his reckless driving. 

“This case is a tragedy,” said Amador. “Their lives were snuffed out…in a horrific, terrible event.”

Renz’s attorney unsuccessfully asked the judge to dismiss the murder charges. Deputy District Attorney Laura Evans said murder charges were filed because Renz was previously convicted of DUI.

Renz told sheriff’s deputies he had been drinking all day before the 6:55 p.m. crash. He also said he had been to a party.

Deputy medical examiner Jacquelyn Morhaime testified the cause of death for both victims was multiple blunt force traumas.

Meyer had extensive injuries with a skull fracture and “a lot of damage to his brain,” said Morhaime. Wiltfong had fractures to “all of the bones of his face and skull.” Both men had fractures to their legs as well as damages to their hearts and other organs, said Morhaime.

Evans said Renz’ blood/alcohol level four hours after the crash was .11. 

Jorge Pena, a sheriff’s criminalist, estimated that Renz drank between 9-14 drinks of beer that day. Pena said alcohol impairs judgment and “it slows down information processing.” 

Evans called Charles de la Cruz, a San Diego Police officer who arrested Renz on Oct. 23, 2015 after Renz crashed a pick-up truck into parked cars in Mira Mesa. 

Renz told Cruz he was angry with someone who made a comment about his boots in a Santee grocery store. “I was pissed off. I was flooring it,” Renz was quoted as saying.

Amador quoted Renz’s comments about his anger in his 2015 case when ordering him to stand trial.

Renz returns to court Nov. 29 to schedule a trial date. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $3 million bail.

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