Crime

Retired FAA investigator found guilty of murder in Denton

A retired FAA agent accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend’s estranged husband in 2010 in Denton was convicted of murder Wednesday and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Gary Landers, 58, of Paint Rock, was found guilty of killing Richard Benovic, 49, of Justin.

The maximum sentence for murder is life in prison.

Benovic was shot about 6 p.m. May 7, 2010, when Benovic and his estranged wife, Ana Benovic, met in the 600 block of East Hickory Street in Denton to exchange their two children, ages 9 and 13. The couple met near the police department because they had a history of violence, Denton police said in 2010 interviews.

Landers accompanied Ana Benovic, Denton police said.

He and Richard Benovic got into an altercation in the parking lot, police said. Landers pulled out a handgun and fired several times at Benovic, who was not armed, police said.

Benovic was shot multiple times, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website.

Landers took the witness stand in the trial, which started last week in Denton.

He told jurors he was afraid for himself and Ana Benovic after they arrived to drop off her two children, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Landers said Richard Benovic had threatened them several times during months of custody and divorce hearings.

Landers told jurors that he thought he was “a microsecond away from being knocked unconscious” by Richard Benovic, according to the Record-Chronicle.

Landers testified that he asked Benovic to back away multiple times and pulled his gun from his holster when he saw Benovic moving toward him, the Record-Chronicle reported. He said he gave a warning and fired, not realizing he had shot him.

“I thought I missed,” Landers said, so he said he fired two more shots.

Landers said he thought if Richard Benovic got to him and his gun, he would be dead, according to the Record-Chronicle.

A Denton County jury deliberated just over two hours Wednesday before convicting Landers, who had been working as an air safety investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration before he retired. They returned the sentence later Wednesday.

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