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'He Needs to Say What Happened': 2017 Death at Sea Still a Mystery

Sentencing delayed for Lewis Bennett in manslaughter case
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2019 7:12 PM CST
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / melanjurga)

(Newser) – More than a year and a half later, there are still more questions than answers in the death of Isabella Hellmann, the Miami Herald reports. The 41-year-old and her husband, Lewis Bennett, set out from their South Florida home on a sailing honeymoon, but on their way back to Florida on May 15, 2017, Hellmann disappeared and the boat sank. Bennett long denied any culpability, but in November pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in her death; her body was never found. But at a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Miami, the 41-year-old continued to insist he did not intentionally kill his wife and sink the catamaran to cover up her murder, as prosecutors initially charged him with; his sentencing was ultimately delayed until May due to unresolved issues regarding Hellmann's estate, the Miami Herald reports.

"What happened that night with my girl?" Hellman's mother, in Spanish, asked the judge at Tuesday's hearing (Hellmann was a US citizen; her family is from Colombia). "He needs to say what happened," added Hellman's sister. "She disappeared and that’s it. What happened to her?" All Bennett, who holds dual citizenship from Australia as well as his native Britain, has said is that the boat ran into trouble overnight while Hellman was on watch; a loud noise woke him up and he came above deck to find her gone. He admitted she was not a strong swimmer or sailor yet he did not require her to wear a life jacket or harness, and that he didn't do much to search for her. At Tuesday's hearing, he apologized to her family for his "poor decisions," the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The couple's only child, a 2-year-old girl, lives with Bennett's parents in Scotland, and Hellmann's family is at odds with them over visitation rights. (More on the case here.)

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